HOUSTON, Texas — GOP presidential hopeful and Texas Ted Cruz greeted a hometown crowd on this third big night in the 2016 Republican presidential race.
The Texas senator spent election night in Houston and found himself among hundreds of supporters in the Galleria area of the city.
At stake in Tuesday’s election were 358 delegates, 165 from Ohio and Florida, 99 and 66 respectively, and 193 delegates from Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina. The islands of Northern Marianas, a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean, had nine delegates but they were awarded to Trump earlier in the day. The Northern Marianas Islands decides their delegates from a caucus.
Exit polls had Governor John Kasich winning his home state of Ohio, with New York businessman Trump leading in Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois. Senator Cruz was leading in Missouri.
Early in the evening the networks called Florida for Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The future of Florida senator and GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio was speculated upon, as was the reason for his defeat. Many thought Rubio never gained the traction he needed to be viewed as a serious contender. Most thought his political future is over, and that a candidate who could not carry his home state did not have a future as a vice presidential candidate. Some thought he might have a shot as a successful gubernatorial candidate in Florida. Over all, he was not expected to continue in the presidential race. John Davidson told Breitbart Texas, “Rubio is done.” Joan Miller told Breitbart Texas, “It is time for him to bow out, gracefully, of course.” Rubio did that with dignity and congratulated Donald Trump on his win.
Nancy Miller told Breitbart Texas that she hoped Rubio would endorse Cruz. The Rubio campaign told voters to get behind Cruz right after his speech suspending his campaign.
Others blamed Rubio for hurting Senator Cruz in the presidential race. Larry Lancols from Houston said, “By not dropping out sooner, Rubio probably cost us a couple of states tonight.” Terri Hamiter told Breitbart Texas, “If Rubio had not stayed in, the race would not be so muddled. I’m afraid the end result of all this is an election between Trump and Hillary and we can have another four years of lawless unconcern for anything I know to be American.” John Danielson had another viewpoint and told Breitbart Texas, “It is now a Cruz versus Trump race and Cruz will prevail because he can beat Hillary. Trump cannot.”
Steve Kusner said he “was anxious for Ted in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio.”
The next state to be called was Ohio for Kasich and Hillary Clinton. Eric Jared Weinmann told Breitbart Texas, “Kasich served only a purpose – deny Trump a majority in Cleveland.” Danielson said he thought “This means a Cruz/Kasich ticket. This is the only rational path.” Nancy Thomas told Breitbart Texas, “Kasich should go home.”
In his speech before his supporters, Kasich said, “We are going all the way to Cleveland and will secure the Republican nomination.”
Jason Baldwin said he was a Rubio supporter but “was now supporting Ted.” Baldwin said Kasich needed to get out of the race. John Nickell called the Ohio governor’s comments, “Delusions of grandeur.” Karen Browne Johnson said, “Kasich won’t take votes from Cruz, so it doesn’t matter in my opinion. Maybe, if he stays in, he would take some delegates from Trump.”
Richard Silver moved from New Jersey to Texas in 1994 because he believed Texas is a place that empowers people to want to work. Growing up in an all Democrat community, Camden, he said he never knew there was another side of the political conversation. Now Silver supports Ted Cruz for president. “He’s real and has a proven track record,” Silver said. “He spent his whole life focused on the Constitution. The Constitution is the backbone of our country.” He said that our rights are like the vertebrate in our spine. “Democrats have been chipping away at our backbone, one vertebrate at a time.”
Silver’s wife is also a Cruz supporter. “If I were to stand next to Ted Cruz, I would smell Ronald Reagan,” she said.
Melissa Ives told Breitbart Texas, “All roads obviously lead to a Trump v. Cruz face off. Senator Cruz has the intellect and an avid grassroots-Tea Party base, and while Trump has fervent adherents also, the tattered remains of the hamstrung ‘Establishment’ will back the Senator with their fading influence. The Senator is vastly qualified to not only defend, but advance the dreams of the Founding Fathers and lay the foundation for the next American century. Cruz is the future, she said.” She added, “Long live the Republic and our sacred Constitution.”
“It looks like we are now officially in a two-man race,” said Houston Cruz supporter Norm Mason. “It also looks like a high probability of a contested convention. I see that as a form of a runoff election.” “Cruz will take that handily,” Mason said confidently. “I am counting on a Ted Cruz nomination because there will never be a President Trump. A Donald Trump nomination would be the equivalent of electing Hillary Clinton.”
North Carolina was called for Trump but the effect was not immediately known because the state is proportional, not a winner-take-all election. Illinois followed, another state for Trump. Missouri, too close to call at that point. With regard to speculation about whether he could get the needed delegates, Trump took to the stage and said “these people don’t understand basic mathematics” and noted there were four men in the race.
Cruz officials told Breitbart Texas they were still optimistic about picking up delegates in Missouri and Illinois.
Missouri remained very close during the evening. After the other states had been called, Trump and Cruz were just .6 percentage point apart with 71 percent of the vote reported.
Carly Fiorina spoke to the crowd in Houston and said that Donald Trump does not share your values. She said that when she is asked whether she would support Trump if he was the GOP nominee, she said “Donald does not represent me, and he does not represent my party.” She added, “There is only one fearless fighter against the Washington cartel.” The crowd yelled – “Ted Cruz.” Cruz is a “Constitutional conservative,” and he is the only GOP candidate that can beat Hillary Clinton, the former presidential candidate said.
When the senator took the stage, Cruz said of Fiorina, “She terrifies Hillary Clinton.”
Surrounded by American flags, Cruz told supporters that the race is essentially a two-man contest between him and Donald Trump. He said, “Tonight was a good night. Tonight, we continue to gain delegates and continue our march to 1,237.” “And after tonight, America now has a clear choice going forward,” he said.
Cruz called Rubio “a friend” “whose passion inspires me.” He said his presidential race and his story inspired millions across the nation. He said to those who supported Marco, “We welcome you with open arms.” “With gratitude, and with hope, and with a positive vision together for our great nation,” he welcomed them to join the campaign along with Fiorina, Senator Mike Lee, Mark Levin, and former Governor Rick Perry.
“Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination, ours and Donald Trump’s.” He added, “Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsover,” Cruz told supporters.
He said he has beaten Trump nine times and the choice is straight-forward. He asked, “Do you want a candidate who shares your values, or a candidate who has spent decades opposing your values?”
Cruz accused the mainstream media, the “network suits,” of giving Trump “hundreds in millions in free advertising” because “they are partisan Democrats ready for Hillary.” “They know that Donald may be the one person on the face of the earth that Hillary Clinton can beat in the general election. But the media aren’t going to decide this election,” he said. “The voters are.”
“Jobs, freedom, and security,” are the three critical issues his campaign will concentrate on, Cruz promised. As president, his “number one priority will be jobs, turning around the stagnation, the misery of the Obama-Clinton economy.” He said, “It is easy to talk about making America great again. You can even print that on a baseball cap. But the critical question is whether you understand the principles and values that made America great in the first place.”
“The heart of our economy is small businesses all across the United States of America.” He said as president he would pass a simple flat tax and would abolish the IRS, repeal every word of Obamacare, and reign-in the EPA and the government regulators “that are killing small businesses.”
“We will stop amnesty, secure the borders, end sanctuary cities, and end welfare benefits for those who are here illegally.” The result will be millions upon millions of high-paying jobs, wages will rise, and there will be more opportunity for Americans and those graduating from college, he said.
Cruz said to those like Donald Trump and lobbyists who “buy influence,” and to those like Hillary Clinton who “sell influence,” “Washington is the center of the universe.” He promised to make Washington “less relevant” in American’s lives. Less government is more freedom, he would repeal excessive regulations. He promised to end the government bailouts and to have a higher standard of living for the country’s citizens.
With regard to freedom, he said, “I will not compromise away your religious liberty.” He said he would not compromise the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and would “ferociously protect” the Bill of Rights for your children in the future. He would not compromise on the appointment of Supreme Court justices as Trump has promised to compromise with Harry Reid.
As to the nation’s security, Cruz said “For seven years we have abandoned our friends and allies, and we have shown weakness and appeasement to our enemies.” He said two debates ago, Trump promised to stay neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. He said as president he would not be neutral and would stand “unapologetically” with the nation of Israel. “Anyone that cannot tell the difference between our friends and our enemies, who cannot tell the difference between Israel and Islamic terrorists who seek to murder us, that raises real questions about their fitness and judgment to be commander in chief,” he said.
Cruz contrasted himself and Trump who wanted to keep and “renegotiate” the Iran agreement promising “to rip to shreds” President Obama’s deal with Iran.
He said he would build up the nation’s “weakened military” so that “it remains the mightiest fighting force on the face of the planet.”
Cruz said, “Together we can turn things around. If we stand together, if we remember the common sense, free-market principles that built America, the constitutional liberties that built America. Once again, standing together, we can have Morning in America.”
Now is the time to unite, Independents, Republicans, and Libertarians alike, he said. “For everyone who wants to see a brighter tomorrow. We welcome you to our team. We welcome you with open and welcoming arms.”