NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pleaded for other candidates’ supporters to coalesce behind his presidential campaign and promised “manifest revolt” would occur if the GOP nomination came out of a brokered convention.
Emphatically declaring “God bless CPAC” after walking onstage to Guns N Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” Cruz swung right into shots at Donald Trump — and his last-minute cancellation of his Saturday morning speech — in his address today to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“So Donald Trump is skipping CPAC,” Cruz said. “I think somebody told him Megyn Kelly was going to be there.”
“Or even worse, he was told that there were conservatives that were going to be here.”
And he kept going: “None of you have a degree from Trump University,” the senator quipped.
A pocket of audience members began chanting “Trump”; much of the audience responded with loud booing that drowned out the chants.
Cruz went into his standard stump speech, with a nod to the CPAC attendees. “The men and women here are a grass-roots army,” he said.
And back to Trump.
“It’s easy to talk about making America great again – you can even print that on a baseball cap,” he needled the billionaire businessman.
“I’m told that Donald Trump talks a fair amount about immigration … Donald was funding the Gang of Eight,” Cruz said, noting $50,000 in donations to some lawmakers involved in the immigration reform compromise.
Cruz took a dig at last night’s Detroit debate, noting Trump “promised all of us to be flexible” on immigration.
“Flexible is code word in Washington, D.C., for the ‘get ready to stick it to you,'” he said.
On former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s anti-Trump speech Thursday, Cruz said, “Mitt is a citizen; he’s entitled to express his concerns… he’s expressing a concern people have all over this country.”
Cruz said voters “recognize Donald Trump is not best candidate to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton.”
A “Never Trump” shout rang out in the crowd.
“Super Tuesday made clear that only one campaign has repeatedly beat Donald Trump,” Cruz said, launching into the first of many pleas for supporters of other candidates to come over to his campaign now. This drew a mixed reaction from the capacity crowd.
Cruz strongly opposed a brokered convention, insisting talk of a nominiation pushed to a second vote is the product of “fevered frenzy” from the establishment to anoint “all of their golden children the voters keep rejecting.”
“We will have a manifest revolt on our hands all across this country if there is a brokered convention,” Cruz predicted.
“If you want to beat Donald Trump, here’s how you do it — you beat Donald Trump with the voters.”