Texas a key state for candidates fighting over GOP nomination

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Sen. Ted Cruz is hoping that Gov. Greg Abbott's endorsement will go a long way come Super Tuesday, when Texas holds its primary election. (KTRK)

Governor Greg Abbott has endorsed Senator Ted Cruz.

"I'm confident Ted Cruz will be a terrific commander in chief for the United States of America," said the Governor at an event on Houston's north side.

Abbott waited until halfway through early voting to declare his pick in a state the Cruz campaign desperately needs.

"Texas has 155 delegates," said Cruz. "It is the crown jewel of Super Tuesday. Texas has a lone almost 15 percent of the delegates you need to be the Republican nominee."

Cruz worked for Abbott as Solicitor General of Texas. They've known each other for 13 years.

Much as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's endorsement of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio helped him to a second-place finish there, Cruz's camp is hoping Abbott's endorsement persuades Texans to coalesce behind their candidate.

"I think Super Tuesday will be a very good day for us," said Cruz. "I think the terrain is favorable. And we're gonna campaign hard. We're going to work to earn those votes."

The first-term U.S. Senator is well known for sticking to his message and for being steadfastly disciplined on the stump.

But on Wednesday, he offered a new line: a veiled jab at Donald Trump.

"We can't be fooled by PT Barnum," said Cruz. "The time for the clowns and the acrobats and the dancing bears has passed."

Cruz's campaign is only one of two to win a primary yet. Trump is the other. But there is the air of uncertainty and maybe urgency surrounding the campaign after a pair of third-place finishes behind Trump and Rubio.

That new line is maybe a message to voters that Cruz understands the optics of this race and that beating Trump on Cruz's home turf is critical to success beyond Super Tuesday.

"Texans have a very good ability to see through bologna," said Cruz, "to see through a smokescreen, to see through rhetoric and to look to substance."
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