-- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he "effectively tied" Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for second place in South Carolina's Republican primary, as the two senators were separated by a little more than 1,000 votes, but both finished far behind front-runner Donald Trump.
Despite only winning one of the early voting states so far, Cruz believes his combined results show he is the “only one strong conservative remaining in this race who can win” the Republican presidential nomination.
"Our game plan from day one was do well in the first four states and consolidate conservatives to go forward into Super Tuesday,” Cruz told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Sunday on "This Week." “I think we're positioned ideally to do exactly that.”
“What we’re doing -- systematically, nationally -- is unifying conservatives,” Cruz added.
Cruz, who finished first in Iowa and third in New Hampshire, said his base remains strong going forward, especially among young Republican voters.
“We won young people in South Carolina,” Cruz said. “We also won young people in Iowa.”
Cruz further used his first place win in Iowa, a state in which he said he had “heavy hitters” behind his campaign, to distance himself from Rubio, who had strong endorsements in South Carolina but failed to win the state.
“All the establishment circled their wagons around Marco and yet he still only came in second after his campaign promised they were gonna win the state,” he said. “We won Iowa with a big margin.”
While Cruz acknowledged there was “no doubt” the attacks he and Rubio continue to level against each other are helping Donald Trump, he said that his campaign is the “only one campaign that has beaten or can beat" the real estate mogul.
“Seventy percent of Republicans don’t believe Donald Trump is the right candidate to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton and beat her in November,” Cruz said. “I think we are positioned, nine days from today, to have an amazing day in Super Tuesday.”