A secretive coterie of prominent GOP leaders is considering transferring its support from Republican presidential hopeful Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe CDC's Title 42 order fuels racism and undermines public health Ocasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema MORE to his primary rival Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE, multiple sources familiar with the situation told National Review Online.
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 TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event 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.