Speaking Saturday at the North Dakota Republican convention, presidential hopeful Ted Cruz threw familiar barbs at GOP front-runner Donald Trump. The blustery billionaire would be a "train wreck" in a general election said Cruz, who has emerged as the principal competitor to Trump in the race for the GOP nomination. 

"If we nominate Donald Trump, it hands the general election to Hillary Clinton with a big silver bow," Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, told the North Dakota crowd, according to Politico. "He loses by double digits."

According to a RealClearPolitics average of polls, Cruz may have a point, because Democratic front-runner Clinton leads against Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup, 49.7 percent to 39.1 percent. Cruz trails by a slimmer 2.8 percent. He played up his electability Saturday — in a speech that also touched on many of his familiar talking points — saying, "let me tell you, I beat Hillary Clinton."

Cruz never directly referenced third-place Ohio Gov. John Kasich, asserting that only he and Trump had a real path to the nomination. Instead, Cruz focused on the billionaire, saying, "It’s easy to talk about about making America great again," in reference to Trump's well-known campaign slogan, "but the real question is if you understand the principles and values that made our country great in the first place."

Cruz was the sole GOP candidate to show up in North Dakota, where the state will decide on 25 delegates it will send to the July 18-21 national convention in Cleveland. The delegates will be entirely unbound to any candidate until then. The 2016 GOP race has been overtaken by talk of a brokered convention should Trump not reach 1,237 delegates, a number that would, barring unforeseen rule changes, lock up the nomination. 

Cruz has become the presumptive choice for the anybody-but-Trump lane of the GOP establishment looking for a brokered convention, but instead of strongly striking against some of the billionaire's huge promises — such as mass deportations — Cruz has seemingly embraced some of Trump's points, including "bringing millions upon millions" of jobs back from China and Mexico, the Economist noted Saturday.

The 25 unbound North Dakota delegates are a relatively minor prize, but not entirely inconsequential as the race has devolved into a behind-the-scenes scramble to secure delegates.

"It's like a pot of gold. At the margin that's a huge number. It's going to be very close obviously in Cleveland," former New Hampshire Sen. Gordon Humphrey, a Kasich supporter looking to lock up delegates in North Dakota, told CNN





While Cruz opted to drop in for a brief North Dakota appearance, front-runner Trump elected to spend the day in Wisconsin, a winner-take-all state for the GOP that puts 42 delegates up for grabs with a vote Tuesday. CNN pointed out that Trump did call in for a few minutes to a North Dakota radio show co-hosted by Rep. Kevin Cramer to talk about fracking and energy in a state that has seen crushing economic effects from the recent tumbling of oil's price.