MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Republican Ted Cruz didn’t come close to winning the New Hampshire primary, but he stormed into this next early voting state Wednesday morning with a frontrunner’s message: I’m the only one who knows how to beat Donald Trump.
“You cannot beat Donald Trump coming from the left,” Cruz told reporters here before a rally. “You see more moderate candidates standing on the debate stage and saying, ‘Gosh, Donald, we need more amnesty. Gosh, Donald, don’t be so tough on radical Islamic terrorism.’ That’s not going to work.”
“The only way to beat Donald Trump is to highlight the simple truth of his record,” Cruz added. “It is not conservative.”
Cruz, the U.S. senator from Texas, has for weeks envisioned the Palmetto State as the site of a showdown between himself and Trump, both of whom now have wins under their belt heading into the third nominating contest. South Carolina holds its Republican primary on Feb. 20.
After coming in first in the Iowa caucuses, Cruz finished a distant third behind Trump on Tuesday night in New Hampshire, though he joked he deserves the same credit Marco Rubio got a week earlier for beating expectations in Iowa.
“I am looking forward to a week of wall-to-wall coverage on Fox News of the impressive third-place finish,” Cruz said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Before a rowdy crowd here inside a theater off Myrtle Beach’s boardwalk, Cruz struck a more serious tone, saying that Iowa and New Hampshire have fulfilled their historical roles of winnowing the field. “Now,” he added, “it’s up to South Carolina to pick a president.”
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