The Republican presidential primary race is over — or is it?
Texas Senator Ted Cruz told Glenn Beck on Tuesday that he could jump back into the race if a viable pathway opens up for him to clinch the Republican nomination. On the same day, Cruz sent a letter to several state Republican parties indicating that he wants to hold on to his delegates and prevent them from jumping to presumptive nominee Donald Trump's campaign at the party's national convention.
Of course, Cruz dropped out of the race last week after losing the primary in Indiana because a real path to his nomination was no longer in sight. He was mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination outright in late April but carried his limping campaign through Indiana, where Trump handed him a nearly 20-point loss.
Nevertheless, Cruz told Beck — a major supporter who spent much of his radio show on Tuesday lamenting the lack of a conservative alternative to Trump — that there is a chance, however small, that he could change his mind and revive his campaign.
Cruz was skeptical when he was asked if a primary victory in Nebraska, which is voting on Tuesday, would cause him to jump back into the race. But he didn't dismiss the idea.
"I am not holding my breath," Cruz said. "My assumption is that that will not happen, but listen, let's be very clear — if there is a path to victory, we launched this campaign intending to win. The reason we suspended the campaign last week, is with Indiana's loss I didn't see a viable path to victory. If that changes, we will certainly respond accordingly."
The chances of that path opening up to Cruz are exceedingly slim.
Trump is now just 217 delegates away from winning the nomination and will only need to carry 58 percent of the remaining delegates to truly declare victory before the convention — a task that shouldn't be difficult for the only remaining Republican candidate.
But Cruz and other former GOP contenders will still be on the ballot in upcoming primaries. His model now would look a lot like Senator Marco Rubio's, who dropped out of the race in mid-March but went on to defeat Ohio Governor John Kasich for third place in several states after that. Rubio did not add to his delegate total after leaving the race, however, meaning that Cruz would have to outperform the ghost of Rubio's campaign in upcoming contests to keep Trump from winning the remaining delegates he needs.
Cruz returned to the US Capitol late Tuesday afternoon, where he was greeted by a massive gaggle of reporters asking whether he would, in fact, reenter the 2016 race.
"Let's be clear, we're not going to win Nebraska today. There should be no mystery, no excitement in that," Cruz said. "We've withdrawn from the campaign and it's in the hands of the voters. If circumstances change, we will always asses changed circumstances. But I appreciate the eagerness and excitement of all of the folks in the media excited to see me back in the ring."
Cruz on Tuesday joined Rubio in asking states that supported him to keep his delegates bound to his campaign. If Trump comes up short in the remaining primaries, Cruz's 546 delegates and Rubio's 168 delegates will still have to vote for their respective candidates on the first ballot at the national convention in July, leaving Trump to battle it out on a second ballot for the support he needs to lock up the nomination.
It's an incredibly unlikely longshot. But for Cruz supporters and other Republicans who are horrified by the idea of Trump leading their party, hope springs eternal.
Follow Sarah Mimms on Twitter: @SarahMMimms
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