ORONO — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz told a raucous crowd on Friday at the University of Maine that he is the only Republican presidential candidate capable of beating Hillary Clinton, and he called on supporters of other GOP candidates to join him or risk sending Donald Trump to lose the election.

The senator from Texas blasted Republican front-runner Trump, who held a rally of his own on Thursday in Portland.

“For the 65 percent of Republicans across this country who recognize Donald Trump is not the best choice, [they believe] that Donald will lose to [Democrat] Hillary Clinton, and that will be a disaster for Republicans, a disaster for conservatives and a disaster for the country,” Cruz told members of the media in a dressing room before taking the stage.

“The only way to beat Donald Trump is for us to continue to unite and stand together,” he added.

Asked whether he would consider having U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio as a running mate, Cruz responded, “We are seeing discussions within the party about coming together. … There is no doubt, if we remain divided, Donald Trump wins. Remain divided — it is a path to catastrophe for this country.”

Cruz held his rally the day before Maine’s Republican Caucus, in front of more than 1,500 supporters and a smattering of protesters at the University of Maine’s Collins Center for the Arts.


Cruz outlined several goals of his presidential bid — repealing “every word” of Obamacare, passing a “simple flat tax,” abolishing the IRS and cracking down on illegal immigration.

A few protesters and hecklers were scattered throughout the audience. One man held up a sign that read “No human beings are illegal” when Cruz began discussing immigration policy and border security.

Cruz stopped his speech, read the sign aloud, and said he agreed that all human beings are equal and created by God but said that doesn’t give them the right to violate immigration laws.

Police took signs but did not force protesters who held them up to leave. One man was escorted out after shouting out several times. Another walked out on his own after shouting about the importance of not ignoring global climate change.

Another small group of protesters stood outside the Collins Center and debated calmly with Cruz supporters as they exited.

The venue was changed to the Collins Center the day before the rally. Originally, Cruz announced plans to speak in Hauck Auditorium on campus, which seats just 530.

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