Ted Cruz’s allies are going for the knockout punch of Marco Rubio in Florida — a risky play, but one that could leave the Texas senator with a one-on-one fight for the nomination.
It comes as Cruz aims to limit the race moving forward to himself and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
However, the move to tear votes away from Rubio could ensure that Trump will win next week’s Florida primary — the largest winner-take-all state during the election cycle with 99 delegates.
Keep the Promise I, one of the four main super PACs backing Cruz’s candidacy, began firing off ads on Sunday night targeting Rubio for his Senate attendance, support for sugar subsidies, and for various tax initiatives, The Texas Tribune reported. A spokeswoman for Keep the Promise told the publication that the super PAC intends on airing some of those commercials in the state.
Rubio’s campaign fired back, calling the ads the “Gold Standard of hypocrisy.”
The spots come as Cruz has made it clear his plan is to “vigorously contest” Rubio’s home state of Florida — a state Rubio and many of his allies consider a must-win to keep his presidential hopes alive. The Cruz campaign opened 10 offices across the state within the past week.
Rubio is facing an uphill battle in the Sunshine State, however.
In polling conducted late last month, Rubio trailed Trump in Florida by roughly 20 points, while Cruz trailed the Republican frontrunner by more than 30 points.
But those polls were conducted before Cruz won in three states among the “Super Tuesday” contests and in two others among the group of states that held voting Saturday. The victories have provided Cruz, who is within 100 delegates of Trump, with a clearer path to catching the frontrunner.
Rubio has won just two contests — the Minnesota caucuses and the Puerto Rico primary. He trails Trump by more than 200 delegates.
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