SUN CITY, Ariz. — Fearful of a Donald Trump nomination to lead the GOP, conservative leaders huddled privately in Washington on Thursday in search of a plan to stop the billionaire businessman. His Republican rivals braced for another Trump victory next week, this time in delegate-rich Arizona.
The GOP has an eager alternative in Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, yet some party leaders are exploring “other avenues” instead of rallying behind the fiery conservative, an ominous sign that Republican leaders’ deep dislike of Cruz complicates their overwhelming concern about Trump.
“The establishment is like a wounded animal, now cornered,” said Mark Meckler, an early leader in the tea party movement. “They are terrified, irrational and flailing wildly.”
Even after being denied victory in five contests Tuesday, Cruz insists he still has a path to the 1,237 delegates necessary to claim the Republican presidential nomination. But in a strategy memo obtained by The Associated Press, his campaign essentially cedes Arizona’s March 22 primary to Trump and acknowledges Cruz must win 79 percent of the remaining delegates before the GOP’s July national convention.