Anti-Trump Movement Zeroes in on Cruz

Source: Texas Tribune | March 17, 2016 | Patrick Svitek

On the brink of a two-man race with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz is drawing more attention than ever from those organizing to prevent the billionaire from winning the Republican presidential nomination at all costs — an increasingly urgent task to some as Trump racks up delegates and momentum. 

That Cruz, the U.S. senator from Texas, would emerge as the anti-Trump standard-bearer is hardly surprising at this point: He has amassed more delegates — and survived longer — than any other non-Trump candidate. Yet formal efforts to consolidate anti-Trump support behind him are taking on a new urgency following Marco Rubio’s departure from the race Tuesday after losing his home state of Florida to Trump. 

Now, anti-Trump forces feel the countdown is on to get behind Cruz. 

“Obviously time is critically short, and I think he knows that, and I’m hoping that the people themselves are beginning to understand the consequences and this matrix of opportunity that we have,” said U.S. Rep Trent Franks of Arizona, a Cruz supporter who attended a meeting Thursday morning of conservative activists and leaders banding together to stop Trump.

The group, which is calling itself “Conservatives Against Trump,” issued a statement after the meeting calling for a “unity ticket” to put up against Trump. The statement did not mention Cruz, but those involved in the meeting indicated the Texas senator was a frequent topic of discussion — and a likely part of any ticket they support. 

“They see that Cruz is the only one that has a path to stop Trump now,” said Erick Erickson, the founder of the conservative website Red State and one of the meeting’s organizers. 

Do the math,” Quin Hillyer, a spokesman for the group, said of Cruz. “He’s got a lot of delegates. He’s obviously very much in the conversation.”

Another prominent anti-Trump group, the Club for Growth, has long been friendly toward Cruz but so far focused its advertising on Trump. Asked Thursday if the group could shift to explicitly pro-Cruz ads, president David McIntosh did not rule it out, calling Cruz the “true real conservative” among the three remaining candidates.

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Perhaps the most powerful anti-Trump force that could get behind Cruz is his former rival, Rubio. On a conference call Wednesday with supporters in Minnesota, Rubio reportedly called Cruz “the only conservative left in the race.” Speaking with reporters Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C., Rubio did not rule out formally supporting Cruz, and by Thursday night, Politico was reporting that Rubio was closing in on an endorsement of his Senate colleague.

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