Ted Cruz says GOP race now a contest between two – him and Donald Trump

Sen. Ted Cruz, who did not win a single state in Tuesday’s primaries, proclaimed the GOP competition for the presidential nomination a two-man race going forward.

His speech came after Sen. Marco Rubio, who at one point had been seen as Donald Trump’s main rival, dropped out of the race upon losing in his home state of Florida to the billionaire.

“Tonight we continue to gain delegates and continue our march” to the nomination, Cruz said in a speech to supporters gathered at Houston campaign rally.

“After tonight America now has a clear choice going forward,” Cruz said.

Cruz praised Rubio, who, like him, is a first-term senator and of Cuban heritage.

“Marco is a friend, he’s a colleague, he ran a strong, optimistic campaign,” Cruz said. “His passion inspired me. His presidential campaign inspired millions across the nation.”

Cruz then welcomed Rubio's former supporters "with open arms."

He did not mention Gov. John Kasich by name but clearly was belittling his chances. Kasich won his home state of Ohio on Tuesday but that has been his only victory of the year.

Cruz has won seven states but still significantly trails Trump in delegates. The Texas Senator claimed that the media was "rooting" for Trump because he is the only candidate Hillary Clinton could beat.

Cruz has yet to win a state on Tuesday though the race in Missouri has not yet been called.

The winnowing of the field makes it increasingly challenging for the Republican Party leadership, which is not enthusiastic about Trump, who is seen as a wild card, or Cruz, who is seen as too conservative and alienating. The so-called GOP establishment had been looking at Rubio as their candidate to beat Trump and Cruz.

Although after Trump, Cruz has won the most delegates and states in the GOP race, he still faces an uphill battle, trailing the real estate mogul by more than 200 in the number of delegates.

The GOP could face a contested convention in July if Trump does not reach the required 1,237 delegates.

Cruz, who casts himself as a true conservative, and says that Trump is not, has aggressively pursued the evangelical vote, though many have cast their ballots for Trump.

Cruz made history on Feb. 1 when he became the first person of Hispanic origin in U.S. history to win a presidential caucus or primary. He won the Iowa caucus – the first presidential contest in the nation – and by the largest number of votes ever in that state, to boot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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