Donald Trump may have thought he delivered the knock-out punch to Ted Cruz -- but the Texas senator apparently doesn't see himself down and counted out of the 2016 Republican presidential race.
Not yet, anyway.
Cruz, in an interview Tuesday with radio host and supporter Glenn Beck, opened the door just a crack to kick-starting his now-suspended campaign if he somehow starts winning primary contests again. Asked what he’d do if, for instance, Nebraska voters back him in Tuesday’s primary, Cruz said he assumes that won’t happen but added:
“Let’s be very clear, if there is a path to victory -- we launched this campaign intending to win.”
He said he suspended his campaign last week because he didn’t see a viable path after his loss in Indiana, but, “If that changes, we will certainly respond accordingly.”
Cruz – much like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio did before him – also is moving to lock down his delegates. A Cruz campaign spokesman confirmed to Fox News that the senator has written to the state party chairs in all the states where he won delegates, informing them he intends to hold onto them for now.
Fox News also is told the Cruz campaign just submitted its proposed delegate slate to the California secretary of state’s office on Monday. The state holds its primary June 7. As to why the “suspended” campaign would take this action, Cruz California state director Jason Scalese told Fox News: “It was really just to keep faith with our supporters. The delegate selection process was one we worked on for months and we wanted to honor that."
The surprising moves come as Trump begins his transition to a general campaign strategy -- taking on likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton more aggressively and even reportedly naming confidant Corey Lewandowski to lead his running-mate vetting process. He’s trying to patch up rifts with key party leaders, though he faces headwinds, as House Speaker Paul Ryan and others hold back their support.
Cruz, however, spoke Tuesday about the state of the GOP primary race in qualified terms.
“The voters in the primary have seemed to make a choice and we’ll see what happens as the months go forward," he told Glenn Beck.
Cruz declined to endorse Trump and would not say whether his own supporters should do so either. "This is a choice every voter is going to have to make -- and I would note it’s not a choice we as voters need to make today,” Cruz said.
Still, despite signals from Cruz that he’s not quite conceding the race to the billionaire businessman, his path to clinching the nomination pre-convention closed weeks ago.
He holds just 564 delegates to Trump’s 1,068; it takes 1,237 to win. Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s only viable path to the nomination had been to hold Trump under the 1,237-delegate threshold and force a contested convention – and with Trump’s remaining rivals having suspended their campaigns, he is expected to have no trouble getting to that number.
On Tuesday, Trump continued to tout his efforts to take on the Democrats in November and patch up any issues with the GOP.
He tweeted: “I look very much forward to meeting w/Paul Ryan & the GOP Party Leadership on Thurs in DC. Together, we will beat the Dems at all levels!”
Fox News' James Rosen and Lee Ross contributed to this report.