Premature or prophetic? While analysts tried to figure out who had a “ticket” coming out of New Hampshire, Ted Cruz told Salem’s Mike Gallagher that only two tickets exist — at least in first class. With a win in Iowa and a surprising third-place finish last night, Cruz warned the Republican Party that he’s the only one in the field who can dethrone Trump:

“South Carolina historically has played a critical role picking presidents. And I think Iowa and New Hampshire perform an incredibly important function in narrowing the field and in many ways this field is becoming a two-person race between me and Donald Trump,” the Texas senator said on the Mike Gallagher Show Wednesday. “What Iowa and New Hampshire demonstrate is that the only person in this field who can beat Donald Trump is me. The other candidates are not able to beat Donald Trump.”

In large part, this might be true because Cruz is the only one who appears to be trying to beat Trump. Jeb Bush is trying to beat Marco Rubio in order to seize the so-called “establishment lane.” So was Chris Christie, who flamed out in New Hampshire while Rubio’s continuing on to South Carolina. Rubio has been mostly returning fire and taking aim at Obama, but has avoided challenging Trump. Bush is also trying to beat Kasich, and Kasich is mostly just trying to expand his own name recognition and organization. The second tier — now reduced to Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina — wants to attack the Republican establishment. After many months of drafting behind Trump’s momentum, Cruz has finally and fully gone on offense against the national polling leader, and he’s not pulling punches.

Rather than comment on a lack of intestinal fortitude in the field, Cruz offers a strange accusation about the others taking on Trump from the Left:

After a first place finish in the Iowa caucuses last week, Cruz finished third in New Hampshire on Tuesday, behind Trump and John Kasich. Cruz said he is the only candidate positioned to challenge Trump from the right.

“You can’t beat Donald coming from the left. It doesn’t work,” he said. “If you campaign against Donald saying, ‘hey, I’m more liberal than you I’m more into amnesty than you, I’ll be softer on radical Islamic terrorists than you, it doesn’t work, as we’ve seen twice in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

Come on, man. This is an Obama-worthy straw man. Which Republican put forward an argument for being softer on Islamic terrorists, for instance? For that matter, where was Cruz until Trump started pulling out the birther card? Cruz has an case to make for being The Last Great Hope against Trump, but … this ain’t it.

Still, until the other candidates start directly challenging Trump, Cruz wins this argument — by default.