Photos by Erik Petrovich
LAS VEGAS — As of 8 p.m. caucus day, presidential candidate Ted Cruz was polling 4 points ahead of his fellow candidate Marco Rubio, and 16 points behind Republican front runner Donald Trump, according to a poll released by Gravis Marketing Feb 15.
But third time was not the charm for Cruz in Nevada, after he fell behind Rubio by 3 points, when full results were available in the morning of Feb 24.
Donald Trump decisively won the Republican caucus, with more than 45 percent of the vote. Cruz congratulated Trump on his victory, but made it clear that he was most looking forward to elections further down the road.
“I want to thank the great people of Nevada,” Cruz said. “I cannot wait to get back home to the great state of Texas.”
Special guests included conservative political commentator Glenn Beck, who said Cruz was the best candidate for protecting the constitution, even asking, “When’s the last time we had a candidate who understood the second amendment?”
— Erik Petrovich (@EAPetrovich) February 24, 2016
Beck said, along the same lines as Cruz later on, that the race was not over as Texas was still coming.
After introductions from other special guests, Cruz took the stage and almost immediately congratulated Trump for his victory in the state. The Texas senator said he was the best candidate to fight against terrorists and protect Israel in the Middle East.
He said if elected, he would “tear up” the recent Iran nuclear deal enacted by President Obama.
“Ask yourself who has led this fight against radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz said. “I will utterly and completely destroy ISIS.”
Despite coming in third place for the third time in a row, supporters for Cruz said they were unphased by the loss. Some said the real battle for the nomination will not happen until Super Tuesday, when 11 states, including Cruz’ home state, will participate in a presidential primary or caucus.
Political analysts have said if Cruz does not win Texas by a landslide, he may not be a feasible candidate for the Republican nomination post-March 1.
“Nevada was Trump’s, because it is a gambling state,” Cruz Precinct Captain Sheila Arceo said. “Rubio lied about Cruz, Trump lied about Cruz, and that had its effect.”
Cruz supporters were adamant that this was not the end of the road for his campaign, stating that Nevada was never going to be his state.
“Coming out of the last caucus, Cruz and Rubio were separated by just shy of a tenth of the vote,” said Sandra Robison, a Cruz precinct captain. “Trump has towers here, this is his playground, but that doesn’t mean Cruz is out of the race.”
Cruz ended his speech by saying his loss in Nevada was just another step closer to winning other states in the future.
“Tonight, we are one step closer to morning in America,” Cruz said. “We are getting back to the unbelievable opportunity that is the American dream.”
Editors Note: The Collegian sent two editors to Las Vegas, Nevada to cover the Republican and Democratic caucuses before the campaigns come to Colorado on March 1. This piece is part of a series of articles produced during the five days they spent traveling in and around Sin City. Follow the Collegian for continuous coverage of the 2016 election.
Collegian Assistant News Editor Erik Petrovich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @EAPetrovich.