- Ted Cruz addressed conflict between moderate members of the GOP field
- "In past races there has been one consensus moderate establishment candidate, and conservatives have all been broke and fought like cats and dogs. This cycle, it's the moderates who are fighting like cats and dogs,"
Before he appeared in front of a group of conservatives on Capitol Hill, Cruz did not sound worriedwhen asked by CNN whether the fundraising success of Ben Carson, another conservative hero, undercut his position.
"In past races there has been one consensus moderate establishment candidate, and conservatives have all been broke and fought like cats and dogs. This cycle, it's the moderates who are fighting like cats and dogs," Cruz said outside the Capitol Hill Club before he spoke to influential congressional Republicans. "At this stage, it's very unclear who's going to be the moderate establishment candidate in the race."
Cruz has pitched himself as the only well-funded conservative candidate, armed with a bank account that gives him staying power deep into the calendar. But Cruz played off the signals of an intensifying fight in the establishment wing of the party: Jeb Bush, once seen as a strong favorite of more business-minded Republicans, is now openly squabbling with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Cruz has worked to win over many of the conservative movement's leading players, and his campaign believes the candidate of the "mushy middle" can only win if conservatives bicker late into the season. Cruz has polled in the middle of the pack in national and early-state polling -- though he's fared a little more strongly in Iowa where he's expected to focus more of his energy in the coming weeks.
And the Texas senator on Wednesday seemed to suggest that the decisions of Scott Walker and Rick Perry to drop out of the race was evidence of his success and a slow consolidation by those on the right.
"Conservatives more and more are unifying behind our campaign," he said, noting the morning's news that the campaign now had co-chairs in every county in the first four primary states. "You look at the two candidates who dropped out -- Scott Walker and Rick Perry, both very good men -- they were competing principally in the conservative lane."
Cruz has previously used the two men's decisions -- both caused by fundraising problems -- as an example of why he has emphasized a more frugal campaign. He declined to answer whether his fundraising would be "competitive" with Carson, a political neophyte who says that he managed to raise
$20 million this summer.