By Lauren McDonald –
ATLANTA — GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz says he wants to unite the conservative party in order to win the 2016 election.
He told 800 conservative activists and donors on Saturday at the RedState Gathering that a Republican will not make it back to the White House any other way.
“We have to win this race,” Cruz said. And he said no other Republican candidate in the race right now could win. The junior U.S. Senator from Texas said he plans to use his support from grassroots organization to rebuild the “Reagan coalition.”
“I don’t see a whole lot of candidates who I think can energize, mobilize, inspire and bring the millions of conservatives- from evangelical Christians to the Reagan Democrats to the young people … who we’ve got to bring back if we’re going to win.”
Cruz said he has donors in roughly half the zip codes in America.
He was a crowd favorite at the Gathering, a two-day event for conservatives hosted by RedState.com, judging by the number of standing ovations he received. So far in his campaign he’s gained the support of hardcore conservatives and some Tea Party followers. But experts say he isn’t the frontrunner right now.
“When we launched the campaign, the New York Times said, ‘Cruz cannot win because the Washington elites despise him,'” Cruz told the Gathering attendees. “I kind of thought that was the whole point of the campaign.”
Nine GOP presidential candidates are speaking at the event this weekend. Until Friday night, Donald Trump had been scheduled to give the closing speech. But after a disparaging comment made during a CNN interview, the event’s sponsors disinvited him.
Cruz refused to comment directly on Trump’s interview.
“We’re not going to beat the Washington cartel by obsessing over the politics of personalities,” Cruz said. “This is about real challenges facing the American people.”