Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) could have defeated Donald Trump for the Republican nomination — if Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had joined his ticket as his vice presidential candidate, according to Cruz campaign officials quoted by CNN Sunday.
Jake Tapper reported:
Top officials of the Cruz campaign are convinced there is one specific step that could have stopped Trump — and they blame Sen. Marco Rubio for not taking that step.
In early March, it became clear that Trump was well on his way to the nomination and would even likely defeat Rubio in his home state of Florida’s March 15 primary. According to several sources close to Cruz, the Cruz campaign conducted several secret polls to see what the impact would be if Rubio joined Cruz as his running mate, with Cruz at the top of the ticket.
The result of those polls was a “blowout” for Cruz, according to the Cruz officials.
Rubio dropped out on March 15, after losing in his home state of Florida — but not before taking votes in several states that arguably might have gone to Cruz instead of Trump. (Rubio supporters likewise saw Cruz as a spoiler for their candidate.)
On March 21, Politico broke the news that Cruz had, indeed, approached Rubio with a proposal for a “unity ticket,” but the Florida Senator had refused. Doug Deason, a Cruz supporter who volunteered to act as a go-between, told Politico: “Rubio was too pompous to act on it. He believed his own internal polls and there was no swaying him away from staying in the race through the Florida primary … If he had signed on before the first Super Tuesday, Cruz would have won all of the Texas votes and a lot more delegates. They may have very well won Florida.”
The week before Cruz lost the Indiana primary, and dropped out of the race, he and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had announced a pact to divide up the remaining primary states before California — a pact Kasich broke soon afterwards, stumping in Indiana.
Cruz eventually named former Hewlett-Packard CEO and presidential candidate Carly Fiorina as his running mate — a move that generated headlines that partially blunted the effect of crushing losses in the northeast states, but did not reverse his overall decline.
Trump led polls throughout the Republican primary campaign, but typically lost in head-to-head polls against individual candidates.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.