- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sen. Ted Cruz emerged from the Super Tuesday contests with victories in his home state of Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, giving him more ammunition for his argument that he is the only candidate that has — and can — defeat Donald Trump for the GOP nomination.

Mr. Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses this year, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida have been engaged in a fight to become the alternative to Mr. Trump.

But they’ve split up much of the anti-Trump vote along the way — fueling concerns among some Republicans that their battle within the battle is clearing the New York billionaire’s path to the nomination.

Coming off a widely-praised debate performance over the weekend, Mr. Rubio came out on top in Minnesota, pulling some bragging rights out of an otherwise disappointing night for the freshman senator.

Mr. Rubio’s next best showing came in Virginia, where he finished second to Mr. Trump.

But before the race in Minnesota race was called, Mr. Rubio told supporters Tuesday night that his campaign is gaining steam and that this week, he has begun to “unmask the true nature of the front-runner” — calling Mr. Trump a “con artist.”

“Two weeks from tonight, right here in Florida, we are going to send a message loud and clear,” Mr. Rubio said, alluding to the winner-take-all March 15 contest in the Florida primary, which is shaping up to be a must-win for Mr. Rubio.

“We are going to send a message that the party of Lincoln and Reagan, and the presidency of the United States will never be held by a con artist,” the Florida senator said.

Speaking at his election night party in Texas, Mr. Cruz said that “head-to-head our campaign beats Donald Trump resoundingly, but for that to happen we must come together” and suggested it is time for some of the other candidates to end their campaigns.

“Tomorrow morning, we have a choice,” Mr. Cruz said. “So long as the field remains divided, Donald Trump’s path to the nomination remains more likely. And that would be a disaster for Republicans, for conservatives and for the nation. After tonight, we have seen that our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat and that will beat Donald Trump.”

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Ohio John Kasich, meanwhile, signaled Tuesday that they plan to forge ahead with their campaigns.

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