Nation’s Conservative Leaders Pledge to Support Cruz in Private Meeting

While Donald Trump appears to have all the steam heading into primary season, there is another candidate that many now believe is better positioned to win the GOP nomination: Ted Cruz. Now national conservative leaders are unifying behind Cruz in what is sure to catapult the Texas senator’s bid for the presidency.

The National Review is reporting on a secret meeting between the nation’s most influential conservative leaders. These leaders, united in their belief that conservatives must unite behind one candidate in order to ensure his victory over an establishment backed candidate, have spent years deliberating on who to support. Finally, after much debate, this group of influential leaders has sworn allegiance to Ted Cruz.

The initiative, spearheaded by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, had originally brought together a loose coalition of some 50 like-minded conservative leaders from around the country. Together, beginning in early 2014, the group — referred to internally simply as “The GROUP” — met every few months to discuss the state of the race, to pray for guidance, and to conduct a straw poll to see which candidates enjoyed the most support at each stage of the campaign.

It had all built to this day and to this meeting, where members would vote until they reached a verdict. Once finalized, their decision would represent the culmination of an oft-dismissed undertaking that began several years earlier and aimed at one thing: coalescing the conservative movement’s leaders behind a single presidential candidate in a show of strength and solidarity that would position them to defeat the establishment-backed candidate in the head-to-head stage of the 2016 Republican primary.

The group final agreed to support Senator Cruz. The impact is already being felt.

The impact was felt immediately on the 2016 campaign. Three prominent participants — direct-mail pioneer and longtime activist Richard Viguerie, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, and The Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats – announced their support of Cruz within 72 hours of the meeting at the Sheraton.

But this barely scratches the surface. An avalanche of endorsements is forthcoming from conservative leaders, including James Dobson, founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family, Ken Cuccinelli of Senate Conservatives Fund, and of course, from Perkins himself. (Though some prominent group members, such as Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, have made it known that they won’t endorse.) Convinced that Republicans lost in 2008 and 2012 because the party nominated moderates who failed to galvanize the conservative base, Perkins and some close allies set out in 2013 to build a coalition of fellow activists who accepted their premise — and who agreed that the only way for conservatives to defeat the establishment in 2016 would be to unite the movement’s leadership behind one candidate before the primary season began.

While Trump enjoys a double digit lead in national polls, it is the individual states which will decide the nominee. Cruz is already leading in Iowa, with more conservative supporting coming to bolster him. He would conceivably come in the top three in New Hampshire and could be in good position in South Carolina– all of which leaves Cruz in a commanding position heading into the deep South in March. With this new round of support, it may be possible for a small government conservative to actually capture the Republican nomination.

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