Conservative leaders consider ditching Cruz for Rubio: report

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A secretive coterie of prominent GOP leaders is considering transferring its support from Republican presidential hopeful Ted CruzTed CruzVa. GOP delegate files lawsuit over bound convention votes Our most toxic export: American politick 'Never Trump' group ad compares Trump to Reagan MORE to his primary rival Marco RubioMarco RubioVa. GOP delegate files lawsuit over bound convention votes The Hill's 12:30 Report Rubio Senate challenger drops out MORE, multiple sources familiar with the situation told National Review Online.

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Known as “The Group,” the cabal is led by head of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins and Senate Conservative Fund President Ken Cuccinelli.

Members voted in December to endorse Cruz, finally reaching a supermajority of 75 percent after five ballots.

But in a conference call on Tuesday, watching the Nevada caucus results trickle in, members reevaluated that endorsement.

The Texas senator’s flat performance in Saturday’s South Carolina primary — finishing third and losing the evangelical vote to front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump's first fundraising email had 60 percent spam rate Trump, Clinton fundraising off Brexit vote UK vote triggers talks with US MORE — has caused members to question whether he still has a viable path to the nomination.

Charges of dishonesty leveled against Cruz by Trump and Rubio have stuck, Cruz supporters lamented, upending his message as the trusted conservative in the race.

Rubio backers in The Group have not aired their doubts about Cruz publicly, but they are laying the groundwork for a defection from Cruz if he fails to gain traction in the March 1 primaries.

A source said members will take a “pragmatic charge to stop Trump” by switching to Rubio if Cruz flops on Super Tuesday, which Cruz has called his “firewall” in the race.

Perkins in a tweet on Wednesday denied that the call took place and reiterated his support for Cruz.

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