The increasingly crucial hunt for delegates brought U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Saturday to North Dakota, typically a backwater in presidential politics that is getting new attention from the Republican field.
“It is entirely possible the men and women gathered here will decide this entire primary, will decide this nomination,” Cruz said in an afternoon speech at the state GOP convention in Fargo, where 25 delegates will be selected to attend the Republican National Convention in July.
Cruz’s trip was a brief but important detour from the campaign trail in Wisconsin, which holds its primary Tuesday. Unlike delegates in most other states, those being selected Saturday in North Dakota are not “bound” to any candidate on the first ballot at the national convention.
Cruz’s campaign is looking to ensure as many potential supporters as possible are among the unbound delegates elected in places like North Dakota. If the Republican race culminates in a contested convention, such delegates, who are effectively free agents until July, could make the difference in denying frontrunner Donald Trump the nomination.
Cruz was introduced in Fargo by rival-turned-supporter Carly Fiorina, while Cruz’s two Republican opponents were planning to send surrogates to address the convention. Former GOP candidate Ben Carson was slated to pitch Trump’s campaign, while former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire was set to speak on behalf of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
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