Editor's note: This story has been updated.
OSCEOLA, Ind. — Ted Cruz is arguing he still has a path to Republican presidential nomination, even if he loses the primary here Tuesday as expected.
“Absolutely, but we intend to do everything possible to win tomorrow,” the U.S. senator from Texas told reporters Monday morning after a stop in this town in northern Indiana.
“I am in for the distance,” Cruz later said. “As long as we have a viable path to victory, I am competing to the end.”
Cruz is hoping to keep frontrunner Donald Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination before the Republican National Convention. A loss Tuesday in the Hoosier State, where 57 delegates are up for grabs, could significantly close that window for Cruz.
A NBC/Wall Street Journal survey released Sunday showed Cruz trailing Trump by 15 points in the Indiana. At least two other polls have shown Cruz behind Trump by several points.
During his stop here at Bravo Café, Cruz suggested to reporters and supporters they should take the polls with a grain of salt, saying they have been “all over the place.” In actuality, he told reporters, he is running “neck and neck” with Trump in Indiana — a favorite line of Cruz's ahead of elections in states in which he has both beaten Trump and lost to him.
"The polls are everywhere," Cruz told reporters Monday afternoon before a rally in Fort Wayne. "I'll tell you where this race is: This race is effectively tied here in Indiana."
Osceola was Cruz’s first stop of five planned across Indiana on Monday, two of them with Gov. Mike Pence. Seven surrogates, including running mate Carly Fiorina, are also barnstorming the state Monday, expected to visit another five cities and towns.
At the rally in Fort Wayne, Pence made clear Cruz has his "unwavering support" after offering a tepid endorsement last week. Cruz put his own spin on the situation, teasing reporters for having "confused being Midwest nice with being less than enthusiastic."
"He will defeat Hillary or the Bern in November of 2016," Pence said of Cruz, going on to volunteer his own justification for making the endorsement. "I chose to weigh in on this election because to lead is to choose."
Earlier Monday, Cruz and Pence made a stop in Marion, where the Texas senator extensively engaged a pro-Trump protester. The exchange lasted several minutes, with Cruz and the protester going back and forth over a number of arguments that have been made against the two candidates throughout the race.
"Sir, with all respect, Donald Trump is deceiving you," Cruz said, according to video captured by a local College Republicans chapter. "He is playing you for a chump."
As Cruz worked the dining room here and a long line winding through the parking lot, a number of supporters alluded to his seemingly perilous position in Indiana. To some, he spoke of how inconclusive the polls have been. To others, he stressed the primary will all come down to turnout.
To a concerned-looking woman, Cruz kept it simple: "The entire country's depending on your state right now."