Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz spoke with CNN’s Jake Tapper Saturday evening before polls closed in South Carolina, accidentally referring to fellow candidate Marco Rubio as “the third-place finisher” while discussing why his own campaign is the one to beat.
“Head to head, Donald loses to Hillary,” he said, “Head to head, I beat Hillary.”
Cruz explained that the only way to beat the Democrats is to run a candidate who has a significantly different platform. He said that his party needs to follow former President Ronald Reagan’s admonition to “paint in bold colors, not pale pastels.”
“We’re looking for a strong proven Constitutional conservative to stand up and present a clear contrast with the Democrats,” Cruz said.
He proceeded to discuss GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign tactics, claiming that his strategy thus far has been to attack his own campaign while ignoring Rubio on the Republican side and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side.
“One of the clearest pieces of evidence that Donald sees our campaign as the only campaign that can beat him is he devotes every ounce of energy to attacking us with everything he has, usually with nasty, false personal attacks,” he said.
Cruz went on to say that Trump “ignores every other candidate in the race” because he doesn’t view them as real contenders.
He added that Rubio’s campaign has done the “same thing,” attacking the Cruz campaign while avoiding Trump.
“I think we need a clear, meaningful, substantive policy differentiation with Donald Trump and then with Hillary Clinton,” he concluded.
Cruz finished third Saturday evening with a 22.3 percent vote, following Rubio at 22.5 percent and Trump at 32.5 percent.