-- Over the past 48 hours, the state of Texas has played host to a tale of two presidential candidates.
On one side of town, Jeb Bush met with worried donors. Not far away, Ted Cruz was boasting about the addition of wealthy CEOs to his finance team and touting the endorsement of one of the most powerful politicians in Texas: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who lavished praise on Cruz, calling him a “true conservative” and an “outsider.”
In fact, Cruz has struggled to gain traction in the polls because of two other outsiders: Donald Trump and Ben Carson. However, his campaign has seen momentum in Iowa with a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll showing him in double digits and 10 percentage-points behind Carson and Trump. The Texas senator said today that between his ground game and his fundraising prowess, his campaign has staying power.
“This is an important morning in the Republican presidential campaign,” Cruz said. “What we’re seeing happening in this race is very encouraging. We’re seeing conservatives uniting behind this campaign. We’re seeing Texans uniting behind this campaign.”
When pressed by reporters about the Bush family’s influence in Texas and whether it’s waning, Cruz stayed clear of saying anything negative about the Bush family.
“I think this state continues to respect the Bush family,” Cruz said. “I certainly do.”
Cruz later added, “I think at the same time Texans recognize circumstances have changed. Seven years of Barack Obama in Washington bankrupting our kids and grandkids.”
Cruz then made the argument that nominating another establishment candidate like Mitt Romney or John McCain would lead to Republicans losing the election. He stopped short of adding George W. Bush’s name into the list of establishment Republicans he referenced.
Cruz also mentioned his friendship with George P. Bush, son of Cruz’s GOP rival, Jeb Bush. Cruz also contrasted his fundraising numbers with Bush’s -- something he has also been doing on the campaign trail in his stump speech. The campaign altogether has raised over $26.5 million over the last six months, $10.9 million of that came from Texas.
“We finished the last quarter reporting the most cash on hand of any Republican in the field,” Cruz said. “$13.8 million in the bank, $3.5 million more than the Jeb Bush campaign.”
“This is yet another indication of conservatives coming together and of Texans coming together,” Cruz said.
Those former Rick Perry donors include Darwin and Doug Deason of Deason Capital Services, Brint Ryan of Ryan Industries, Inc., Lee Roy who is the chairman of the board of Cinemark and Jim Lee of Ascendant Advisors.
Deason said in a statement that all three men concluded that Cruz has “the best chance of winning the Republican nomination and the general election next year.”
The Texas primary is part of the so called “SEC Primary,” when a collection of southern states will hold primaries on March 1. The SEC Primary is a key component of Cruz’s campaign strategy.
“The so called SEC primary all across the south, states like Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and the crown jewel of the day, the state of Texas,” Cruz said. “We hope and believe Super Tuesday is going to be a very, very good day for our presidential campaign.”