What We Learned From Thursday's GOP Debate

The stakes were high for Rubio. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The GOP stage is a lot less crowded now, and the tone was a lot calmer than the candidates' previous meeting. It's down to four candidates in the Republican presidential primary race, and time is running out for those party leaders who want to stop front-runner Donald Trump. (He managed to mention that former candidate Ben Carson would endorse him, which happened on Friday).  

During Thursday's CNN debate in Miami, which took place less than a week before the Florida primary and other winner-take-all contests that will more heavily influence the delegate count, Sen. Marco Rubio was under pressure to make his case in his home state.  

Mike Lee: It's Time to Unify Behind Ted Cruz

Lee, center, endorsed Cruz for president, while encouraging Rubio to drop out of the race. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mike Lee traveled to Sen. Marco Rubio's home turf in Miami on Thursday with a message for Republicans: It's time for conservatives to come together behind fellow Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for president.  

And for Rubio to step aside.  

Mike Lee Is First Senator to Back Cruz

Lee and Cruz stride through the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP White House hopeful Ted Cruz picked up his first endorsement from a fellow U.S. senator on Thursday -- Utah's Mike Lee.  

"There is a big difference between confusion and confidence, and Ted is that difference," said Lee, who also is a Republican.

Fiorina Endorses Cruz

Fiorina is throwing her support to Cruz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz isn't having much luck getting the endorsements of his Senate colleagues, but he has picked up one from a former foe: Carly Fiorina.  

“Ted Cruz is a fearless fighter for our constitutional rights. He has spent his life protecting Americans’ God-given liberties, and he has always stood by his word. Unlike the status-quo political class in D.C., Ted Cruz didn’t cower when he got to Washington – he stood unequivocally for the American people. I know Ted, and he’ll do the same as president,” the former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard said in a statement.  

What We Learned From Tuesday's Primaries

Tuesday night was a good one for Donald Trump. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump stayed strong in the south and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign looked weak, despite high-profile endorsement in the Republican primaries. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won by a large margin over Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders in Mississippi, continuing her southern dominance, though in Michigan, Sanders pulled out a close win and a stunning upset. And the race continues.  

So what's next for the campaigns and how will they adjust strategies before upcoming debates and important primaries?  

North Carolinians See Cruz as Moral Choice

Cruz takes the stage at a town-hall style interview in Raleigh. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

RALEIGH, N.C. — As a former pastor, Fred Wolfe has seen plenty of evangelical Christians make a distinction between religion and politics. They look for "toughness, not morals" in their candidates, he said, and so are probably voting for GOP front-runner Donald Trump this year. Wolfe himself, though, is canvassing for Sen. Ted Cruz in North Carolina.  

"He's the first Republican candidate I've been able to support with a clean conscience,"  said Wolfe, 37, one of many conservative Christians who turned out to the hear the Texas Republican speak at Calvary Baptist Church here.  

Why Stopping Trump at Convention Is No Cure-All

Cruz’s unexpectedly strong victories in Maine and Kansas give some Republicans fresh hope that Trump will fail to win the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Michael Najvar is part of the Republican Party’s electoral bedrock: The 67-year-old Texan says he has voted for every GOP presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan. But that’s a streak that might end this fall, the Donald Trump supporter says, if rival campaigns and party bosses use a contested convention to block the New York billionaire from the presidential nomination.  

“If they used a brokered convention, they’d destroy the GOP,” says Navjar, who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday wearing Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” red hat.  

Cruz Mocks Absent Trump in CPAC Speech

Cruz's criticism of Trump was met with raucous applause at CPAC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Ted Cruz wasted no time tearing into Donald Trump’s decision to skip his planned weekend appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, opening his speech Friday to sarcastically offer a set of explanations for his rival’s impending absence.  

“I think somebody told him Megyn Kelly was going to be here,” the senator from Texas said, building on a torrent of criticism he’s leveled against Trump in recent weeks. “Or even worse, he was told there were conservatives who were going to be here. Or even worse, he was told there were libertarians who were going to be. Or even worse, he was told young people were going to be there.”

What We Learned from Thursday's Debate

Cruz let Rubio and Trump duke it out while he stayed above the fray, one veteran strategist said. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sen. Marco Rubio hit Donald Trump on his business ventures. Sen. Ted Cruz told Donald Trump to count to 10. Trump shifted his position on worker visas. And former GOP nominee Mitt Romney threw out the first pitch.  

Just like previous debates. Trump was riding his momentum while Rubio and Cruz tried to slow it down. But too little, too late?  

What We Learned From Super Tuesday

Clinton is a big Super Tuesday winner. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Have his Super Tuesday wins propelled Donald Trump toward the Republican presidential nomination or have strong showings outside his home state of Texas renewed the campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz? What do some disappointing results, despite high-profile endorsements and tough attacks on the front-runner, mean for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio? Will Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders soldier on, buoyed by a few wins and close contests, though Hillary Clinton is looking inevitable?  

Roll Call asked political analysts and strategists to weigh in: