House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday suggested that the Republican presidential race is now down to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDems say attorney general undermined credibility with Trump talking point Pollster says there is no downside to Dems jumping into 2020 primary Senate confirms Trump's pick for ambassador to Saudi Arabia MORE, leaving out Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign Disney to donate million to rebuild Notre Dame Celebs start opening their wallets for 2020 Dems MORE.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I see it more as Trump-Rubio," McCarthy said during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" as the hosts discussed pundits who ruled out candidates like John Kasich.

"Cruz's whole strategy of winning — he wasn't planning on Trump — and when you look going through the evangelical vote and others, he just lost that," McCarthy added.

Trump picked up nearly a third of the vote in South Carolina on Saturday, while Rubio narrowly edged out Cruz in the first Southern state to hold voting.

McCarthy praised Rubio's comeback in South Carolina after the Florida senator finished a disappointing fifth in New Hampshire, but he acknowledged that it is difficult to name a state that Rubio could win given the dominance of Trump in the race.

McCarthy likened Trump's popularity among voters to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's rise to governor of California "even down to the fact that they replaced Trump with Arnold on 'The Apprentice.'"

The House GOP leader expressed optimism about working with Trump, acknowledging the businessman's status as the Republican presidential front-runner.

McCarthy pointed to Trump's momentum in the GOP race after winning New Hampshire and South Carolina, saying, "I think there's more [than a] 50-percent chance he's the nominee."

McCarthy insisted that he could work with any of the GOP candidates leading the field.

"Oh yeah, I think I could work with Donald Trump," McCarthy said.

Asked about Cruz, McCarthy demurred before maintaining, "I think I could work with anyone who comes out to be the nominee."

"I think John Kasich would be an excellent president," McCarthy added when asked about the Ohio governor, who took second in New Hampshire earlier this month.