Plan B

Cruz Eyes Trump, Warns Against Brokered Republican Convention

The Texas senator is trying to establish himself as the clear alternative to front-runner Donald Trump.

CPAC 2016

Senator Ted Cruz pauses while speaking during CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 4, 2016.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Ted Cruz isn't interested in a brokered Republican convention. 

A day after displaying unexpected strength against front-runner Donald Trump with wins in two state nominating contests, the Texas senator warned of a "manifest uprising" if "a bunch of Washington dealmakers" attempted to "steal the nomination" from a candidate who was leading the race for delegates. 

Cruz's victories in Saturday's caucuses in Kansas and Maine have helped solidify his second place standing to Trump in terms of pledged delegates for the Republican nomination. And they've bolstered his argument that he, rather than Florida Senator Marco Rubio, is the better alternative to the New York billionaire. 

Yet Cruz, who often boasts of his clashes with the establishment wing of his own party, slammed the "fevered talk of the Washington establishment" that Republican National Convention delegates could nominate a candidate at odds with the wishes of a plurality of voters. 

"If it's a bunch of Washington deal makers and lobbyists who want to parachute in their preferred candidate because they don't like what the voters are doing, I think that is illegitimate," Cruz said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I think it's wrong."

Rubio has struggled to gain traction as the establishment-backed alternative to Trump, only winning contests in Minnesota and Puerto Rico, and falling behind his Cruz and Trump in the delegate count. 

While Rubio has dominated Cruz in terms of endorsements from party leaders, Mitt Romney, the party's 2012 presidential nominee, said over the weekend that Cruz was acceptable as an alternative. Cruz would be best for Republicans to consolidate around in any state "where he’s leading right now" or is polling close to Trump, Romney said in an interview with CNN's "State of the Union" that aired Sunday. 

Romney has pledged that, if Trump didn't win a majority of the delegates in the convention's first round of voting, he would campaign for "someone who I thought could win in November" in subsequent rounds, when delegates can change their votes. 

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said he "highly" doubted that a front-runner would head to the convention in Cleveland without having already secured the 1,237 delegates needed to win the first ballot.

"It's up to the delegates and it's up to these primary voters in these states that their will be done," Priebus said Sunday on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." "There should be no activity that alters or plays games with that process."

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has not won a contest but who hopes to surge with support in the Midwest, said a contested convention was more likely.

"If Trump, you know, wins all the rest of these things, he'll go to the convention with the right numbers. But if he doesn't have the right numbers, then... we're in a multi-ballot convention," Kasich said, also on "This Week." "What's the big deal about that, other than it's exciting?"

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