Texas Sen. Ted Cruz questioned whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a clear path to the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in an interview on Thursday, suggesting Bush would have trouble winning any of the first three states on the primary calendar -- Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
"If you look, historically since World War II, no one has ever won the nomination without winning at least one of those first three," Cruz told Fox News. "That has certainly been history. I think it's an interesting challenge for a number of other of these candidates. You look at -- the media describes Jeb Bush, for example, as the frontrunner. It becomes an interesting question when you ask, which of those states does he win?"
Cruz suggested Bush will have an easy time raising money, but a harder time connecting with the average Republican voters who will ultimately decide the nomination.
Cruz, who declared his presidential bid in March, is considered a favorite of the GOP's conservative activist wing. Bush, who will formally jump into the race on June 15, has emerged as an early frontrunner among the Republican establishment.
The most recent major poll of Iowa caucus voters shows Bush narrowly outpacing Cruz. A Des Moines Register survey released late last month pegged Bush's support at nine percent and Cruz's at five percent in the Hawkeye State. Most New Hampshire primary polls show Bush in the lead or close to it, while in South Carolina, he's in the middle of the pack.
Nationally, polling data show Bush at or near the head of the GOP primary field, with Cruz close behind. A Quinnipiac survey last month, for example, found Bush at 10 percent and Cruz at 6 percent among Republicans nationwide.
Both men have room for growth, however. A CBS News poll last month found that 46 percent of GOP voters would consider supporting Bush for the Republican nomination in 2016, while 23 percent would not. 40 percent would consider supporting Cruz, while 17 percent would not.