Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declared Friday that the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination will be decided next week in Indiana – making clear he's staking his underdog bid on a strong performance there.
“It gives me great comfort that this primary is going to be decided by the Midwestern common sense of the Hoosier State,” Cruz said during a one-hour Fox News-hosted town hall in downtown Indianapolis.
Cruz, speaking with anchor Sean Hannity, did not say definitively whether he would drop out if he loses Indiana on Tuesday, but described the "heartland" state as critical.
Cruz trails front-runner Donald Trump by hundreds of delegates. Currently, the delegate count has Trump leading with 994, Cruz in second with 566 and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in third with 153. Cruz, at this point, cannot reach the requisite 1,237 delegates to clinch the nomination before the July convention.
But Cruz said, “Here’s the simple reality – I believe nobody is going to get to 1,237.”
Cruz told the crowd Trump is one of the “greatest frauds in modern electoral history” and is “pretending to be an outsider.”
Cruz also fired back at comments former House Speaker John Boehner made earlier this week referring to Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” and a “miserable son of a b----.”
“Those comments reveal everything you need to know about Washington,” Cruz said. “Listen, we don’t have two parties in Washington. We have one corrupt bipartisan mess in Washington.”
Cruz called Boehner’s comments “striking,” adding the former house speaker was “letting out his inner-Trump.”
“He praised Hillary Clinton and he praised Donald Trump. He said, Donald is my friend, we go texting, we go golfing, he’s my buddy,” Cruz said.
He added, “I don’t know Boehner. I don’t think we’ve said 50 words to each other in our lives.”
Cruz gave “credit” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, saying “he is an honest socialist. He actually says what he believes.”
Former HP businesswoman Carly Fiorina, whom Cruz tapped earlier this week to be his running mate, also joined him at the event. Fiorina had been a GOP White House contender before dropping out of the race.
Fiorina kept up the attack on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, and Trump.
“Donald Trump’s contributed seven times to Hillary Clinton,” Fiorina said. “I’m sorry, it is not a choice or a contrast when Donald Trump agrees with Hillary Clinton on so many positions.”
Fiorina said that both Trump and Clinton are both “the ultimate insiders.”
“When Ted Cruz is the president of the United States, I suspect Hillary Clinton will be prosecuted.”
She added, “How long have Republicans and conservatives said we can only win by presenting a clear contrast, so here it is – people of Indiana, Cruz-Fiorina, Trump-Clinton.”
At a separate address in California, though, Trump mocked Cruz's decision to announce Fiorina as his running mate. "I like Carly, but when she left she had no votes," he said.
Speaking to California Republicans, Trump said of Cruz: "He has no path to victory."