Sen. Ted Cruz reiterated a message he's been hammering home over the last few weeks: that he's the only remaining Republican candidate who has a chance of preventing Donald Trump from winning the nomination.
"Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever. Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again," Cruz said. "Not once, not twice, not three times, but nine times all across the country — from Alaska to Maine."
Cruz began his speech in Houston, Texas, by calling on the supporters of Marco Rubio — who dropped out of the race Tuesday night — to join his campaign.
Cruz and Rubio spent months trading insults over immigration, national security, and each other's characters through a bitter, personal Republican nomination fight. But with Rubio's supporters now up for grabs, Cruz gave a more positive assessment of his onetime sparring partner.
"Marco's story, his passion, inspires me," Cruz said. "Marco can paint a picture, can weave a tapestry of a promise of America, like nobody else. His presidential campaign inspired millions across the nation."
Cruz added: "I congratulate Marco on the tremendous campaign. To those who supported Marco, who worked so hard, we welcome you with open arms. "
Below is a rush transcript of Cruz's speech.
We continue our March to 1,237 (delegates). After tonight, America now has a clear choice going forward.
Let me say a word about Marco Rubio. Marco is a friend. He's a colleague. He ran a strong, optimistic, positive campaign. His story — the son of a bartender, the son of a maid who fled Cuba seeking freedom — is powerful. It's inspirational. Marco's story, his passion, inspires me.
Marco can paint a picture, can weave a tapestry of a promise of America like nobody else. His presidential campaign inspired millions across the nation. I congratulate Marco on the tremendous campaign they ran together. To those who supported Marco, who worked so hard, we welcome you with open arms.
With gratitude and with hope and with a positive vision together for our great nation, we welcome you to join us along with remarkable leaders like Carly Fiorina and all the Republicans who are uniting behind our campaign — from Mike Lee to National Review. Starting tomorrow morning, every Republican has a clear choice. Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination, ours and Donald Trump's.
Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever. Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again. Not once, not twice, not three times, but nine times all across the country — from Alaska, to Maine.
And going forward the choose is straightforward. Do you want a candidate who shares your values, or a candidate who has spent decades opposing your values? The mainstream media, the network suits who makes the decisions, want Donald Trump as the nominee. That's why they've given him hundreds of millions in free advertising — because they are partisan Democrats ready for Hillary. And they know that Donald may be the one person on the face of the Earth that Hillary Clinton can beat in the general election.
But the media aren't going to decide this election. The voters will.
And here's our vision for America: it's an America with a brighter future. An America for greater opportunity, and an America for more liberty and more safety and more security. It is an America that is greater tomorrow than it is today and than it was yesterday.
This election will focus on the critical issues, jobs, freedom, and security. As president, my number one priority will be jobs. Turning around the stagnation; the misery of the Obama/Clinton economy. It's easy to talk about 'Making America Great Again.' You can even print that on a baseball cap.
But the critical question is whether you understand the principles and values that made America great in the first place. The heart of our economy isn't in Washington, D.C. The heart of our economy is small businesses all across the United States of America.
If I'm elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare. We will pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. We will rein in the EPA and the government regulators that are killing small businesses.
And we'll stop amnesty, secure the boarders, and end welfare benefits for those here illegally. And the result will be millions upon millions of high-paying jobs and wages rising for people across America. (It) will be young people coming out of school with two, three, four, five job opportunities.
Far too many politicians focus on Washington, D.C. To the lobbyists — so those like Donald Trump, who buy influence — and to those like Hillary Clinton, who sell influence, Washington is the center of the universe.
But we understand that isn't right. Together we will make Washington less relevant in all of our lives.
We'll fire government regulators and repeal job-killing regulations. And together we will take the boot of the federal government off the backs and the necks of small businesses all across this country.
It's not about the bailouts that far too many Republicans and Democrats have done over and over again to benefit the rich and powerful. Instead, less government is more freedom, higher wages and a better standard of life for all of us.
The second critical issue in this election is freedom. Two debates ago, Donald Trump promised all of us that he would compromise with Harry Reid on replacing Justice Scalia to the United States Supreme Court. Our rights hang in the balance — and let me be very clear to the people of America, I will not compromise away your religious liberty.
And I will not compromise away your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. And every justice I appoint to the court will be faithful to the law and will protect the Bill of Rights for your children and for mine.
The third critical issue in this election is security. For seven years, we've abandoned our friends and allies and we've shown weakness to our enemies. Two debates ago, Donald Trump promised as president to be neutral between Israel the Palestinians. Let me be clear: as president I will not be neutral. I will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.
Anyone who cannot tell the difference between our friends and our enemies, who cannot tell the difference between Israel and Islam terrorists — that raises questions about their fitness and judgment to be commander in chief.
Donald Trump says he will keep in place this Iranian nuclear deal and try to renegotiate it. I will rip to shreds this Iranian nuclear deal on the very first day in office. Over seven years, President Obama has weakened and undermined the military.
We've seen this before with another weak Democrat president, Jimmy Carter, who did the same thing. And in January 1981, Ronald Reagan came into office.
What did Reagan do? He cut taxes, he lifted regulations, he pulled government off the backs of the necks of small businesses. We saw millions of high paying jobs and it created trillions of government revenue, and he used that money to rebuild the military to bankrupt the Soviet Union and end the Cold War.
We are going to repeal Obamacare, pass a flat tax, and stop amnesty. And we will see trillions of government revenue, and we will use that revenue to rebuild this military so it remains the mightiest fighting force on the face of the planet.
Tomorrow we have a choice, a clear and simple choice, enough with the Washington corruption. Enough with the deception, with using government to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of hard-working taxpayers. Together, we can turn things around. If we stand together, if we remember the common sense free market principles that built America, the constitutional liberties that built America, once again standing together, we can have morning in America.
Now is the time for Republicans to unite for all of us who want a brighter future for our nation to come together and stand as one. Starting tomorrow morning, there is a clear and direct choice and for everyone who wants to see a brighter tomorrow, we welcome you to our teams, we welcome you with open and welcoming arms.
Thank you and God bless you.