COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA—Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took to the podium as it appeared that he was going to finish in a virtual tie for 2nd place in the South Carolina Republican Primary, pledging to continue waging a fierce battle for the GOP nomination in the coming days and weeks.
After the full results came in, Cruz finished in third place to Marco Rubio–but only by approximately 1,100 votes, just .2% of primary voters.
Cruz had nothing but praise for Jeb. Bush, after the former Florida Governor dropped out of the race, saying he drew “honor and dignity to this race.”
He noted the then-tie for second between himself and Rubio, saying it caused “the pundits” to panic. “The screaming you hear now from across the Potomac is the Washington cartel,” he said, adding they are “in full terror that the Conservative grassroots” have been successful.
Cruz held a moment of silence for Justice Antonin Scalia, who he called a “ferocious defender of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
“As Ronald Reagan was to the presidency, so to was Justice Scalia to the Supreme Court,” he said. “It is not just one, but two branches of government that are at stake. This election will be a referendum on the Supreme Court.”
“I give you my solemn word, that every justice I appoint to the Supreme court, will be a principles constitutionalist” and “vigorously protect” our rights, he said.
“Tonight, despite millions and millions of dollars of false and nasty attacks, despite the entirety of the political establishment coming against us, South Carolina has given us another remarkable result,” he said, likely in reference to the millions of dollars dumped by the Rubio campaign into the state.
“If you are a conservative, this is where you belong, because only one strong conservative is in a position to win this race,” he added.
“We are the only campaign that has beaten, and can beat, Donald Trump,” Cruz said. “That is why Donald relentlessly attacks us and ignores other candidates,” he added.
“Only one candidate … has a consistent conservative record,” he said of his qualifications. Other candidates “resort to insults” because they “cannot defend the substance of their record,” Cruz said of his rivals.
“When I look at my young daughters… I Know that I will fight with every breath in my body to see that they enjoy the same fundamental liberties that we have been blessed to inherit,” Cruz said. “Its why I fight … and we will not go quietly into the night and give up on a brighter America.”
“Together, we will win the Republican nomination. We will beat the Democrats in November,” he pledged. “And we will restore this last best hope of mankind that is the United States of America.”