After leading an NBC/WSJ national poll of the Republican presidential field for the first time ever, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he always knew he would take the top spot.
Cruz kicked off a rally in Spartanburg, S.C., by sharing the national poll's news and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
"The sound you're hearing is the sound of screams coming from Washington, D.C.," Cruz said of the poll's results. "What's happening nationally is indicative of the stakes in this race."
The Texas senator wasted little time equivocating about whether or not the NBC poll was an outlier and told NBC that he believed the race to be headed in his direction.
"You always knew this moment was going to come?" asked an NBC reporter.
"Of course," Cruz replied. "It was always headed to this but at beginning ... we needed to consolidate conservatives first. Donald Trump had a history of just obliterating people who took him on when they didn't have basis support to start with. We saw number of candidates who tried that and lost. So our focus, and by the way, throughout course of that I never described Trump as conservative because he's not a conservative, he's been a liberal his entire life."
Cruz sought to explain his performance in the poll as the result of a months long process seeking out conservative report.
"Our first step was to unify conservatives," Cruz told NBC. "We couldn't win the race until we unified conservatives first. Once we unified conservatives and once the race had narrowed — look with seventeen candidates in the race. It was just a mess."
While Cruz celebrated the poll's results, he still trails Trump in the total delegate count after having lost the New Hampshire primary to Trump and winning the Iowa caucus. South Carolina Republicans will vote on Saturday and Nevadans will caucus for the GOP on Tuesday.
Trump ranks first in the Washington Examiner's newest GOP presidential power rankings. Cruz ranks second.