How Donald Trump Has Out-Cruzed Ted Cruz

A few weeks ago, Ted Cruz’s calculus for declining to attack Donald Trump seemed obvious: Trump was rallying exactly the core anti-immigration base Cruz had long cultivated, so by sticking out Trump’s inevitable fall, the Texas senator would be the obvious alternative for those followers.

But now that it looks like nothing will knock Teflon Trump out of the race anytime soon, Cruz is running the risk that Trump will ultimately usurp Cruz's brand, his base of support, and the rationale for his entire candidacy.

Since Trump jumped into the race, Cruz has resisted opportunities to criticize him, telling reporters he would avoid “Republican-on-Republican violence.”

The remark was perhaps Cruz's clearest hint as to what he was betting on: that if and when Trump does leave race, his supporters will head straight towards Cruz's direction.

“Maybe Cruz gets them by December, maybe Cruz has to wait until the Southern state strategy," Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, told TPM. "Cruz is the most logical choice, but then again, there has been nothing logical about this race so far."

There may be a time when Trump crosses a line with the Texas senator as well. An equal opportunity birther, Trump once questioned whether Cruz's Canadian roots disqualified him from the presidency.

“Cruz is leaving his options as open as possible here," O’Connell said. "If he takes a stand and turns his people off, he finds himself in ‘what could have should have been,’ but if you have to take a stand on Donald Trump further on down the line, he still has the option."

Read more from Tierney Sneed at Talking Points Memo

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