Last weekend, America wasn’t sure whether Texas Sen. and GOP candidate Ted Cruz had enough support to even win over his own home state. Now, the tides are beginning to turn, as the Republican race to win the GOP nomination becomes closer and closer. Cruz managed to win the majority of delegates from the March 5 election states, and you better believe Donald Trump is starting to work up a nervous sweat.
Saturday’s GOP elections included caucuses in Maine, Kentucky and Kansas with a primary in Louisiana. Most notably, the results lent some major legitimacy to the idea that Cruz stands a chance at stealing Trump’s lead before all is said and done. Both candidates won two states, but in the end, Cruz walked away with 69 out of 155 delegates, while Trump walked away with 53. In total, that puts Trump at 384 delegates and Cruz at 300.
Trump versus Cruz
Unlike Trump, who won by less than five percent in both Kentucky and Louisiana, Cruz secured Kansas and Maine by margins of 25 and 13 percent, respectively. Only Tuesday’s elections will tell whether he’s managed to woo Trump supporters over to his side across state lines. In an elevated effort to sway those voters, Cruz resorted to employing some of the billionaire’s bellicose rhetoric during a post-Super Saturday victory speech.
For example, the senator’s win certainly added kindling to his determined “anti-Washington” fire. Like Trump, the candidate is profiting off of the people’s alleged “anger” towards what America has become.
“God bless Kansas,” Cruz declared. “The scream you hear, the howl that comes from Washington, D.C., is utter terror at what we the people are doing together.”
Pressures to narrow the GOP race
According to The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, this past round of elections was decisive for the Republican race, which will likely become more aggressive as the pool of candidates narrows.
In Idaho, which will hold its elections on Tuesday, Cruz quite seriously suggested that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich drop out of the race. According to him, their continued involvement facilitates Trump’s ability to maintain the top spot.
“I think what it represents is Republicans coalescing, saying it would be a disaster for Donald Trump to be our nominee and we’re going to stand behind the strongest conservative in the race,” Cruz said.
As usual, Trump responded by acting invincible and telling reporters in Florida, “I want Ted one-on-one, O.K.” Okay — roger that. He might get just what he wished for.
Mitt Romney’s Trump tirade
2012 GOP nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have pleaded Trump for an endorsement four years ago, but those days are long gone. Last Thursday, the establishment Republican became the most outspoken in the counterattack against the billionaire outsider. During a forum at Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, the former governor delivered a fiery assault that showed zero mercy towards Trump’s policy and character.
“Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”
It’s possible that this contributed to the sudden Cruz favoritism during Saturday’s voting, which took place just two days after the speech was made. While speaking on national security, Romney also attempted to convince people that Trump’s discriminatory rhetoric is both anti-Republican and anti-American.
“Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less-than-noble purposes. He creates scapegoats in Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture,” Romney added. “He calls for the killing of innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protestors.”
Now that Cruz’s delegate count is nearly double that of Rubio, who has 151 delegates, the dynamics of the GOP race have significantly shifted. Prior to Super Tuesday, Rubio and Cruz were each other’s worst enemies in the battle to prove themselves as realistic alternatives to Trump.
Following the March 5 elections, it became clear that as Cruz moved up the ranks, Rubio entrenched himself further into his third-place standing. Unless Rubio can pull the “phoenix rising from the ashes card” and crush Cruz in the upcoming elections, the Texas senator has, more or less, secured his runner-up position against Trump.
If anything, Super Saturday humbled the billionaire, who may soon find himself battling a more consolidated Republican establishment in the days ahead.
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