Cruz positions himself as the only candidate who can beat Trump at Myrtle Beach stop

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at the Tea Party Convention in Myrtle Beach in January 2016.

MYRTLE BEACH ­— Coming off his third-place finish in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz assured supporters and reporters here that he’s the only candidate who can surmount front-runner Donald Trump.

“The only way to beat Donald Trump is to highlight the simple truth of his record. It is not conservative,” Cruz said to a group of journalists while his wife, Heidi Cruz, roused the audience from the stage of Ground Zero, a Christian teen club near the boardwalk. “If you want a proven conservative, don’t listen to campaign rhetoric. Ask, ‘Who has walked the walk?’ ”

Cruz is currently trailing Trump by more than 16 points in South Carolina polls. The business mogul and reality TV star steamrolled his competitors in New Hampshire on Tuesday, capturing 35 percent of the vote, after a disappointing second-place finish behind Cruz in Iowa last week.

Still, Cruz, who took 12 percent of the vote behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 16 percent, touted his “incredible” performance in the Granite State.

“Two weeks in a row, the media, the Washington establishment has been astonished, has been terrified, has been beaten,” Cruz said to raucous applause from a crowd of about 400, according to campaign staff. “Well last night, we came out of the night with a strong third-place finish.”

J.W. Young of North Myrtle Beach attended the rally with his fiancee, Priscilla Calvo, who left the venue with Cruz’s autograph scrawled on her entrance ticket “in case he’s president one day.” Both are undecided voters and self-described born-again Christians whose support wavers between Cruz and Trump, though Calvo admits she’s leaning toward the New York billionaire.

“I like the business side. For me, as a business owner, I need to see the economy come back,” Calvo said.

“I really do like Cruz. I’m 50-50,” Young added. “I hate (Trump’s) immigration policy. He says the stupidest things.”

Reach Deanna Pan at 843-937-5764.