"Ted Cruz came, Ted Cruz saw, Ted Cruz was conquered."

Both men spoke to the Republican Liberty Caucus meeting. Paul won 445 votes to 399 for Cruz, in a preference test that combined votes for first-choice candidates and for anyone that voters found acceptable. (Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson trailed with 139 votes, while former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina ran fourth with 79.)

Behind the scenes, Cruz allies had sown doubts about whether Paul’s campaign was still competitive with the sort of “liberty” voters who were inspired to enter politics by his father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul. One rumor had Paul desperately busing in supporters from his home state of Kentucky. Another rumor had staff deserting the campaign as the Cruz juggernaut gathered momentum.

Paul’s campaign made no attempt to conceal its pleasure at besting Cruz. “While Ted Cruz worked hard and bussed people in, he ultimately did not resonate with liberty lovers,” said Paul spokesman Sergio Gor. “Ted Cruz came, Ted Cruz saw, Ted Cruz was conquered.”