Good morning Austin:
Take that Sarah Palin.
And so, Ted Cruz won the biggest prize – the crown jewel of Super Tuesday – with a very solid win in his home state.
And, with the victory in Alaska, Cruz has claimed the two largest states in land area, and, with what has to be some special satisfaction, won Alaska after his one-time political patron, Sarah Palin, threw him over for Donald Trump in Iowa, which Cruz also won.
Cruz not only avoided disaster, but he comes out of Super Tuesday with, as he promised, the second largest stack of delegates after Trump.
What went right in Texas for Cruz was what went wrong in South Carolina, and went wrong again in Alabama and Georgia.
Here was Cruz at his victory party at the Red Neck Country Club in Stafford last night.
While Cruz defeated Trump in three states, his real Super Tuesday triumph was over Marco Rubio.
From Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics on why Cruz was a winner and Rubio the big loser Tuesday.
Ted Cruz: He delivered a victory in his must-win home state of Texas and added an upset victory in neighboring Oklahoma, where pre-election polls had him trailing Trump by double digits. Cruz exited Tuesday night with a second-place finish in delegates and number of states won, bolstering his case that he’s the only candidate in the field who can defeat Trump.
Marco Rubio: What started as a promising night with strong early returns in Virginia quickly turned into a bad dream for Florida’s freshman senator. His near miss in Virginia – losing by 30,000 votes, probably because John Kasich siphoned off 96,000 votes while finishing fourth – was followed by a string of third-place finishes. Most disappointing among them was Rubio’s failure to reach the 20 percent threshold in Texas, leaving him empty-handed in the most delegate-rich state on Tuesday’s map. Rubio’s night was salvaged with a victory in the Minnesota caucuses, sparing him the indignity of going winless in the first 15 contests of the primary. Regardless, his date with destiny remains in his home state on March 15.
At his “victory” celebration Pledged to get in his pickup truck and travel to all 50 states to stop Trump.
Tom Brokaw on Rubio on Morning Joe: He looked like the student council president how just found out he didn’t have a date for the prom.
My favorite image comes from a line Rubio has used in the last few days and used again last night:
“I will go through all 50 states before we stop fighting to save the Republican Party … I will get in my pickup truck and drive around this country if I have to.”
From Alexander Burns at the New York Times
The results were a grievous setback for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has insistently argued that among the Republican candidates, only he has the political standing to compete with Mr. Trump in a head-to-head race. Mr. Rubio’s backers have urged other candidates to stand down and allow him a clean shot at Mr. Trump, who is a polarizing figure even among Republican primary voters.
Mr. Cruz outpolled Mr. Rubio in many of the states that voted on Tuesday, however, especially in the South, and was the only candidate other than Mr. Trump to win more than one state. Though Mr. Rubio handily won the Minnesota caucuses, his otherwise limp finish may have cost him any leverage he had to demand that other candidates defer to him.
Still, Mr. Rubio urged Republicans not to give up hope of thwarting Mr. Trump.
“Do not give in to the fear, do not give in to anger, do not give in to sham artists and con artists who try to take advantage of your suffering,” he said in Miami. “I will campaign as long as it takes and wherever it takes to ensure that I am the next president of the United States.”
From my story in today’s paper:
At his victory celebration at the Red Neck Country Club near Houston, Cruz called on the other three candidates aside from Trump to “prayerfully consider our coming together, uniting,” behind his candidacy as the only one who can stop Trump from laying claim to the nomination.
“Tomorrow morning we have a choice,” Cruz said. “So long as the field remains divided, Donald Trump’s path to the nomination remains more likely.”
Our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat and that will beat Donald Trump,” Cruz said to cheers, before Minnesota was called for Rubio. “We are the one campaign that has beaten Donald Trump, one time, two times, three times.”
From Robert Costa and Philip Rucker in the Washington Post:
Trump’s deepest disappointment on Tuesday came in Texas, where he had salivated at the chance of toppling Cruz.
Cruz sounded triumphant as he addressed supporters at the Redneck Country Club outside of Houston, a colorful venue where a chandelier made out of beer bottles hung and a chair with legs made out of guns was parked at one of the bars. He sought to frame the race going forward as one between only him and Trump.
Jennifer Bendery at Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday night that Republicans may have to hold their noses and unify behind Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for president if they want to save their party from Donald Trump.
“Ted Cruz is not my favorite by any means,” Graham said in a CBS interview. “But we may be in a position where we have to rally around Ted Cruz as the only way to stop Donald Trump.”
Graham, who not too long ago was running against Cruz and Trump for the GOP presidential nomination, said it’s still a long shot that Cruz could beat Trump. And the Texas senator isn’t exactly the most likable Republican in town.
“Short of a major scandal, probably not,” said Graham of Cruz’ chances. “And if Marco [Rubio] doesn’t win Florida, I don’t know how he goes forward.”
But Cruz has one thing going for him: He’s the only candidate who’s picked up multiple wins in state primaries besides Trump. As of late Tuesday, Trump had won a total of nine primaries and Cruz had won three. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the next runner-up in the polls, just won his first state, Minnesota.
A few days ago, Graham had this to say on Cruz.
If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you,” the former presidential candidate said at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 72nd Congressional Dinner, referencing the Texas senator’s unpopular reputation on Capitol Hill
Cruz stayed alive, which was a significant accomplishment. It was well off what he had once hoped to accomplish on Super Tuesday, but he’s still in the game.
But, Lindsey Graham notwithstanding, he remains nearly as anathema to the powers-that-be in the Republican Party as Trump, and it is hard to look at the map and see all that many targets of opportunity, unless he is simply turning the campaign into a referendum on Trump.
As Rubio correctly pointed out last night, Super Tuesday should have been Cruz’s best night.
And it doesn’t seem likely that Rubio/Kasich/Carson are going to defer to Cruz and get out.
The alternative is that Cruz and Rubio and Kaisch (and Carson) to turn this into a band of brothers buddy movie – each separately but in coordinated fashion taking on Trump.
Chuck Todd called it a “weird non-aggression pact,” with little likelihood of success.
BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH
After Cruz spoke to the ebullient crowd at the Red Neck Country Club, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired the Cruz campaign in Texas, offered a few thoughts.
I’m surprised by how far Trump has gotten but he has done it on celebrity and name ID and not policy, and at the end of the day, the American people may like him personally but their children and their grandchildren and their jobs and their country are more important than his celebrity and they will make that decision.
Two out of every three Republican voters have been choosing not to vote for Donald Trump and they will now coalesce behind Ted.
Marco, I believe Marco will be out of the race before the 15th (of March, when Florida and Ohio vote) because why would he possibly want to go back to Florida and have his head handed to him and lose by 10, 15, 20 points. That ends his political future. The same thing with (Ohio Gov. John) Kasich. Does he want to go back and be governor when he’s just lost an election and probably finished third? So since they are going to get out by the 15th, which is when the winner-take-all states kick in, they should get out before the next primaries Saturday and Sunday.
Because here’s what we know, here’s what we believe. Our polls show that 75 percent of Ted Cruz voters go to Trump, so for all those people who want to get Ted out of the race and have someone ride to the rescue, if Ted’s out of the race, Trump wins handily. But we also know that when Marco gets out of the race, the vast number of his supporters go to Ted, not to Trump.
While Trump’s victory was short of the clean sweep it might have been, it remains truly remarkable in its range.
“It’s only too bad that winner didn’t take all because if winner took all, this thing would be over,” Trump said.
KEEPING AUSTIN WEIRD
And then there’s this: