Ted Cruz, looking for a rebound to keep his presidential hopes alive and block Donald Trump from capturing the Republican nomination, said Monday he's "all in on Indiana," a crucial test for the Texas senator especially now that another rival is getting out of his way in the state.
Cruz is returning to much of the same game plan—but with a new trick play involving Ohio Gov. John Kasich—that led him to victory in nearby Midwest states for what could be a make or break vote May 3 in Indiana. Cruz is counting on outside groups that plan to spend heavily on his behalf, courting conservative Gov. Mike Pence for an endorsement, and spending almost all his time in Indiana before the vote.
"Indiana is a crossroads," he told reporters Monday.
Cruz's campaign is putting about $700,000 into TV and radio advertising in Indiana, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's CMAG. Anti-Trump forces are back in action in this state, after sitting out New York last week. Club for Growth and Our Principles PAC are spending about $2 million, and a pro-Cruz super PAC is chipping in $610,000.
All of that is pitted against the Trump campaign's $1 million paid media investment in Indiana.
In addition to all the outside money, Cruz operatives have been working in Indiana for weeks. The campaign set up its first "Camp Cruz" to house volunteers since before Wisconsin's primary on April 5. Cruz met Pence last week in search of an endorsement. Whether Cruz scores that or not, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Monday he may travel to Indiana over the weekend to help Cruz.
Cruz is counting on support from Indiana's many evangelical voters, who helped Pence win in 2012, just as evangelicals lifted the Texas senator in the Iowa caucuses. A 2014 Pew Research Center study identified 31 percent of Indiana's adult population as evangelical, compared with 28 percent in Iowa.
"It's a must-win for both Cruz and Trump to pursue their plans," said David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth and a former Indiana congressman. "Indiana gets to decide, do we want to have an open convention?"
Cruz and Kasich on Sunday night announced they were coordinating in an effort to stop Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination before the GOP convention in Cleveland in July. Neither Cruz nor Kasich can win a majority of delegates before then, so they are hoping to capture the nomination on a second or subsequent round of voting.
Kasich agreed not to campaign in Indiana, while Cruz said he would "clear the path" for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico.
"I don't see Cruz as trying to stop Trump; I see it more about Cruz trying to get his people out," said Chris Yaney, a 31-year-old truck driver and preacher from Lexington, Indiana, who came to see Cruz on Monday. "I think he has enough ground game that he doesn't need any help. I understand why they would say something like this, but I don't think it will change anything."
Trump is expected to add to his delegate lead on Tuesday when five Northeastern states vote. Looking ahead to Indiana's vote next week, Trump's senior aide, Paul Manafort, said if Cruz doesn't win there he should quit the race. But Manafort said Trump has several other paths to 1,237.
"Certainly Indiana makes it easier, but it's not a must-win state" for Trump, he said.
Indiana has 57 delegates. The statewide winner gets 30. The winner in each of nine congressional districts gets three apiece.
"It's a conservative state," said Cruz adviser Saul Anuzis. "We share their values, we represent the issues that are important to them.
"It's hard to say what's going to happen now," he said. "We're down to the last couple states and every one of them is going to be a battleground."