Cruz 'very confident' he can beat Rubio
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump has officially appointed one in four circuit court judges On The Money: Retirement savings bill blocked in Senate after fight over amendments | Stopgap bill may set up December spending fight | Hardwood industry pleads for relief from Trump trade war Retirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments MORE (R-Texas) says he's confident of victory if the GOP presidential contest becomes a two-man race with Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump Paul's demand to out whistleblower rankles GOP colleagues MORE (R-Fla.).

“If we get head-to-head, I’m very confident we’re in a position to win the race,” Cruz said on CNN’s “The Lead.”

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“I’m not sure it will come down to Marco and me [but] a lot of political observers are saying that and I think it’s a plausible outcome,” Cruz told host Jake Tapper.

“As I look at the race, historically there have been two major lanes in the Republican presidential primary. There has been a conservative lane and a moderate lane.

“Once it gets down to a head-to-head contest between a conservative and a moderate, I think a conservative wins.”

Cruz said Rubio represents the moderate wing of the GOP, while he stands for the party’s conservative faction.

“The moderate lane is crowded as all-get-out,” he said. "They’re slugging it out and I think they’ll spend millions trying to take each other out.

“The Jeb campaign certainly seems to view Marco as its biggest threat in the moderate lane,” Cruz said, citing former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) and his recent attacks on Rubio. "Marco is certainly formidable in that lane.

“When you look at the conservative lane, what I’m really encouraged by is that conservatives are consolidating behind my campaign,” he added. 

Cruz said the 2016 presidential race is unfolding in a way that favors more conservative candidates.

“In past cycles, there’s been a consensus moderate candidate early on and all the money gets behind them,” the Texas lawmaker said.

“Conservatives fight like cats and dogs and nobody has any money. That’s how the moderate goes on to win the primary and then lose the general.

“One of the things I’m encouraged by is that this cycle it’s flipped, it’s inverted,” he added.

Cruz’s remarks come amid one of the most crowded GOP presidential primaries in recent memory.

He ranks fourth out of 15 candidates next year with 8.8 percent nationwide, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average of samplings.

Rubio, meanwhile, has surged into third place with 11 percent voter support in the latest edition of the polling index.