February 21st, 2016
01:04 PM ET

Cruz: the "only campaign that can beat Donald Trump and that has beaten Donald Trump is our campaign."

 

SOTU

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), GOP presidential candidate, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss the results of the South Carolina GOP primary, and the path forward headed into Super Tuesday.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Zachary Lilly – Zachary.Lilly@turner.com

 

CNN Politics Story: Cruz: I'm the only one who has beaten Trump

VIDEO HIGHLIGHT

Sen. Ted Cruz on State of the Union: Full Interview

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Cruz on Trump’s chances against Clinton in a general election: “Number one, we continue to see conservatives uniting behind our campaign.  But number two, Jake, it is now apparent that only campaign that can beat Donald Trump and that has beaten Donald Trump is our campaign.  And although Donald has consistently managed to score numbers in the 20s and 30s, his unfavorables - an awful lot of Republicans are very concerned Donald Trump is not the right candidate to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders… I think if we nominate a candidate who has the same record as Hillary Clinton on partial birth abortion, the same record as Hillary Clinton on ObamaCare and socialized medicine, the same record as Hillary Clinton on granting amnesty to 12 million people here illegally and allowing them to become citizens, and for that matter, the same record as Hillary Clinton on the Wall Street bailouts and the Obama stimulus, I - I don't think that's a path to victory.”

Cruz on his rivalry with Trump: “But, you know, one of the clearest pieces of evidence that - that Donald sees our campaign as the only campaign that can beat him is he devotes almost every ounce of his energy to attacking us with everything he has, usually with nasty, false personal attacks.  Donald ignores every other candidate in the race, because I think he views the rest of the field as not a meaningful threat… I think we need a clear, meaningful, substantive policy differentiation with Donald Trump and then with Hillary Clinton.”

Cruz on Rubio’s performance in South Carolina: “if you look at Marco Rubio, you know, the candidate that expectations should have been that he would have won the state is Marco Rubio.  Marco had the popular governor supporting him.  He had the very popular Senator, Tim Scott, supporting him.  He had a very popular congressman, Trey Gowdy, supporting him.  All of they political establishment in South Carolina came behind him.  And he had millions and millions of dollars of TV advertising backing him up.  And yet his results have been, you know, he's now finished third in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and either third or second in South Carolina.  We don't know right now… When Marco had the leading players behind him, he couldn't come anywhere close to Donald Trump.  That ought to be a real warning sign as to what state exactly is Marco going to win.”

Cruz looks ahead to Super Tuesday: “We're headed on to Nevada and then, 10 days from today, is Super Tuesday.  It is the so-called SEC Primary.  It is states where we've got tremendous support.  We've got a tremendous team, including the crown jewel of Super Tuesday, which is my home state of Texas, where we have incredible support from the wonderful people of Texas. I think we are headed, in the next 10 days, to a remarkable 10 days. And then it's going to be particularly clear that it's a two-man race.  And I believe head-to-head, we not only beat Donald, but the polling shows we beat him by 16 points, decisively and - and nobody else has been able to do this.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

 

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And Senator Ted Cruz joins us now.

 

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

 

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you, Jake.

 

Great to be with you.

 

TAPPER:  So Donald Trump has now won both New Hampshire and South Carolina.  No Republican has ever done that without actually going on and winning the Republican nomination.

 

Why do you think you can stop him?

 

CRUZ:  Well, I think we had a terrific night tonight.  We, uh, it's Saturday night that you and I are speaking.  Right now, we're effectively tied for second place and that puts us in a position of having won a strong victory in Iowa, a strong third place finish in New Hampshire and now a strong second or third place finish in South Carolina.

 

And - and I think what - what this has teed up, those three states together, is really a couple of things.

 

Number one, we continue to see conservatives uniting behind our campaign.  But number two, Jake, it is now apparent that only campaign that can beat Donald Trump and that has beaten Donald Trump is our campaign.  And although Donald has consistently managed to score numbers in the 20s and 30s, his unfavorables - an awful lot of Republicans are very concerned Donald Trump is not the right candidate to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

 

And as the field narrows, we're seeing more and more people coming to us - us because we're looking for a strong proven constitutional conservative to stand up and present a clear contrast with the Democrats and win in November.

 

We've got to win in November.  And I think tonight's result will result in - in yet more people coming to tedcruz.org, supporting the campaign, joining, volunteering.  And the closer it gets to a head-to-head race, the stronger position we're in.

 

TAPPER:  Well, so two questions based on that, sir.

 

The first one, are you saying that - that Donald Trump cannot beat Hillary Clinton, that Hillary Clinton would beat him?

 

CRUZ:  Well, listen, the national polling has consistently shown that head-to-head, Donald loses to Hillary and head-to-head I beat Hillary Clinton.  And - and I believe the only way to beat the Democrats is to run a candidate that has a significantly different record.

 

I think if we nominate a candidate who has the same record as Hillary Clinton on partial birth abortion, the same record as Hillary Clinton on ObamaCare and socialized medicine, the same record as Hillary Clinton on granting amnesty to 12 million people here illegally and allowing them to become citizens, and for that matter, the same record as Hillary Clinton on the Wall Street bailouts and the Obama stimulus, I - I don't think that's a path to victory.

 

I think the way we win is to follow Reagan's admonition that we paint in bold colors, not pale pastels, and the more this race narrows what we're seeing is that old Reagan coalition coming together behind our campaign as the strongest conservative who can win not just the primary, but win the general and - and lead the effort to turn the country around.

 

TAPPER:  Well, the other question is you seem to be calling for all of the - by implication, for the other candidates to - to not continue to run, or at least for their supporters to go to you.  You seem to be saying that the race is between you and Trump and anybody who doesn't want Trump to get the nomination should support you.

 

Should the other candidates think about dropping out?

 

CRUZ:  Well, listen, that's a decision every candidate is going to have to make.  But, you know, one of the clearest pieces of evidence that - that Donald sees our campaign as the only campaign that can beat him is he devotes almost every ounce of his energy to attacking us with everything he has, usually with nasty, false personal attacks.  Donald ignores every other candidate in the race, because I think he views the rest of the field as not a meaningful threat.

 

And for that matter, the - the third place finisher, Marco Rubio, does the same thing.  He attacks us almost with every breath out of his body, personal attacks, and - and consistently avoids engaging with Donald Trump.

 

I think we need a clear, meaningful, substantive policy differentiation with Donald Trump and then with Hillary Clinton.  That's how we're going to win is on substance and record, not on a battle as to - in terms of who can out insult whom and who can throw more attacks.

 

That's not what we are - have done in the past and that's not what I'm willing to do going forward.

 

TAPPER:  I believe, actually, Marco Rubio is the second place finisher.

 

But moving on, you talk about winning, I have to...

 

CRUZ:  Well, actually, to be fair, Jake, it's Saturday night and they're still counting, so we don't know right now who's second and who's third.  We may - we'll know tomorrow morning when this airs.  But right now, they're still counting the votes and it's neck and neck.

 

TAPPER:  Moving on, in terms of South Carolina, it would seem to be, on paper, to be friendly terrain for you.  Seventy-two percent of the voters who turned out were Evangelicals, who largely supported you in Iowa.

 

It's a conservative state.  You have a - an impressive ground game.

if you can't win in South Carolina, where can you win?

 

CRUZ:  Well, number one, a week ago, Donald Trump had a 20 point or even larger lead in this state.  So that lead, much of it disappeared in this past week.

 

Number two, if you look at Marco Rubio, you know, the candidate that expectations should have been that he would have won the state is Marco Rubio.  Marco had the popular governor supporting him.  He had the very popular Senator, Tim Scott, supporting him.  He had a very popular congressman, Trey Gowdy, supporting him.  All of they political establishment in South Carolina came behind him.  And he had millions and millions of dollars of TV advertising backing him up.  And yet his results have been, you know, he's now finished third in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and either third or second in South Carolina.  We don't know right now.

 

And I've got to say, that's really striking.  And, you know, Jake, if you contrast that to Iowa, Iowa, I was in the same position as Marco, the leading conservatives in the state in Iowa were backing me and we won.  We won decisively when we had the leading players behind us.

 

When Marco had the leading players behind him, he couldn't come anywhere close to Donald Trump.  That ought to be a real warning sign as to what state exactly is Marco going to win.

 

And if you want beat Donald Trump, you've got to look at the only candidate, the only campaign that has ever beaten Donald Trump, and that the numbers show, you know, the polling show head-to-head that I beat Donald by 16 points head-to-head nationally.

 

And so as you see other candidates that - that are suspending their campaign, that are moving on, their supporters are trying to decide where do I want to go?

and I think there are a lot of people that have good faith concerns, real concerns, that Donald Trump is not the best candidate for us to nominate.  And I would say, if that's where you are, I would encourage you, come to tedcruz.org, join us, because if we stand together, that's how we're going to win.  And it's how we're going to win the general, as well.

 

TAPPER:  Donald Trump, with all due respect, even though you did beat him in Iowa, he seems unstoppable in some ways.  He certainly defies all expectations.  This week alone, he went after George W. Bush on his handling of 9/11.  He said he looks the ObamaCare mandate, he praised Planned Parenthood.

 

What does it say - he got into a spat with the pope?

 

What does it say about the Republican electorate that it doesn't seem to matter what he does, he seems to win 35 percent of the Republican vote.

 

CRUZ:  Well, listen, a - an election is an ongoing conversation and I think what we're seeing is the field narrowing.  We're headed on to Nevada and then, 10 days from today, is Super Tuesday.  It is the so-called SEC Primary.  It is states where we've got tremendous support.  We've got a tremendous team, including the crown jewel of Super Tuesday, which is my home state of Texas, where we have incredible support from the wonderful people of Texas.

 

I think we are headed, in the next 10 days, to a remarkable 10 days.

 

And then it's going to be particularly clear that it's a two-man race.  And I believe head-to-head, we not only beat Donald, but the polling shows we beat him by 16 points, decisively and - and nobody else has been able to do this.

 

TAPPER:  Senator Ted Cruz, thank you so much.

 

Good luck in Nevada.

 

We'll see you on the campaign trail.

 

CRUZ:  Excellent.

 

I look forward to it, Jake.

 

God bless.

 

###END INTERVIEW###

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