Cruz receives standing ovation at North Dakota GOP convention that will elect 25 delegates today

Ted Cruz was the only GOP presidential candidate who bothered to appear before the state convention in Fargo yesterday, and it appears that he wowed the crowd on the eve of delegate selection. Jeremy W. Peters of the New York Times reports:

North Dakota is not accustomed to being one of the way stations on the path to the White House. Given its meager number of delegates and its tiny, remote media markets, it is rare for a presidential campaign to give this state the time of day.

But here was Senator Ted Cruz on Saturday, addressing the state’s Republican convention and leading the crowd of several thousand to a standing ovation with a thunderous appeal to North Dakota’s sudden relevance. “It is entirely possible the men and women gathered here will decide this entire primary, will decide this nomination,” he said.

Mr. Cruz also dispatched Carly Fiorina, a former rival who has endorsed him, to warm up the crowd before he spoke. Ben Carson worked the convention floor on behalf of Donald J. Trump, shaking hands and posing for pictures. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio sent Gordon Humphrey, the former two-term Republican senator from New Hampshire, to do his bidding.

North Dakota’s delegates will officially be unbound, which makes it crucial for each candidate to identify and push for the selection of personally-committed political activists as delegates. Ad has been the pattern elsewhere, the Cruz campaign appears to have been far more methodical than its rivals at this sort of blocking and tackling.

I am familiar with the culture of North Dakota, which emphasizes niceness and cooperation (qualities Cruz is said to lack), but which also really, really appreciates favorable attention from national figures and national media.  The fact that Cruz has been on the ground personally and organizationally, counts for a lot.

But because of the unbound nature of the delegates, they will also be subjected to the attentions of the campaigns after selection and before the first vote in Cleveland. Who knows what blandishments might be offered them? It’s perfectly legal, to invite delegates to a luxury resort, a private jet ride, or other incentives for a favorable vote.

I have to guess that after today’s delegate selection, the advantage will be with Cruz, but it is not in the bag for the crucial first vote.