He's not the lowest candidate in the Republican polls or delegate count by any means, but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could need a miracle to win his party's nomination. Unfortunately for his campaign, Cruz's closing statement at Thursday's GOP debate in his home state was probably not that miracle. Given his home field advantage in Houston, it's not surprising that Cruz managed to get cheers and chants throughout the night, but his campaign likely still has plenty of work to do. In his closing statement, Cruz threw some shade at his biggest opponent, Donald Trump, and re-emphasized his priorities.
Washington deals are bankrupting this country, and there are several dealmakers on this stage.
Thursday's debate took place at the University of Houston, in front of a crowd that probably largely supported Cruz even before he announced his candidacy for president. So far, though, it doesn't seem like Republican voters elsewhere in the country support him as strongly. Cruz won the ever-important Iowa caucus at the start of the primary season, but he has failed to overcome his fellow candidates, including outspoken real estate mogul Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in the other early contests. On Tuesday, Cruz lost to both Trump and Rubio in Nevada's GOP caucus. Just a few days earlier, he lost to them in South Carolina's primary. Now, it looks like he might not even be able to win over the Lone Star State when the Texas primary rolls around on Super Tuesday next week.
Despite his standing in the recent primaries, Cruz maintained his second-place podium on CNN's debate stage, sharing the center of the stage with Trump. This undoubtedly helped keep the focus on him throughout the night, but he didn't necessarily say anything to leave voters with a completely different opinion of him than when they tuned in. That's fine if he's trying to stay true to his beliefs (although his opponents will probably tell you that Cruz isn't good at staying true to anything), but his statements so far haven't elicited a winning reaction in many states.
In highlighting the "Washington deals" that Cruz says have bankrupted America, Cruz clearly wanted to distance himself from everyone else on the stage, particularly Trump. Cruz and Trump have been compared often throughout the race because they're both considered Washington outsiders. Although Cruz is a senator, he's not your typical Republican, aligning more often with the ultra-conservative Tea Party.
In his closing statement, Cruz identified himself as the only candidate that has stood up to both parties in Washington, in what was surely an attempt to draw some of Trump's anti-establishment supporters onto his side. If it worked, Cruz may see his campaign make up some ground on Tuesday, as the so-called Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses occur across the country. If it didn't, he may quickly find himself falling too far behind in the race to catch back up.