Ted Cruz gets rock star reception, Ben Carson suspends campaign at conservative gathering

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz got the rock star treatment from the crowd here at an annual conference of conservative activists on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

Cruz told a doting audience of thousands to rally behind him as the alternative to Donald Trump in the presidential race.

“Super Tuesday made clear that only one campaign has repeatedly beaten Donald Trump and only one campaign can and will beat Donald Trump,” he said.

Cruz dismissed the scenario floated by former GOP nominee Mitt Romney yesterday in which the remaining candidates force a brokered convention in order to prevent Trump from securing the Republican presidential nomination. He said any situation that would allow the party to pick a nominee different from the public’s choice would create a “manifest revolt.”

“If you want to beat Donald Trump here’s how you do it: you beat Donald Trump with the voters,” Cruz said to applause.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, meanwhile, acknowledged that the best path for him to secure the Republican presidential nomination is through such a brokered convention.

“You have to do it right,” Kasich said of a contested convention. “You can’t have a bunch of people in smoke-filled rooms, who are the establishment, by the way … My only fear of the convention is these kind of connected interests would dominate. And we’re going to have to prevent that.”

Earlier in the day, the head of the Republican National Committee said he did not expect a contested convention.

Later in at the event, Ben Carson formally suspended his presidential came. The move was an expected one, but the retired neurosurgeon drew a standing ovation and more than 30 seconds of cheering from the crowd.

Carson said the delegate math simply didn’t add up for his own bid. He said he plans to stay “heavily involved” in the presidential race, including working with a group that promotes the political involvement of evangelicals.

As a parting note, Carson called for civility in the Republican presidential contest.

“The way to ferret this thing out is not by calling each other names but really by challenging each other’s positions and having them explain why they believe what they do. That will sort out all the things that need to be sorted out without injuring the brand,” Carson said.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will address the gathering tomorrow. Earlier in the day Trump canceled his appearance planned for Saturday, angering the conference organizers:

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...