By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race a week ago after a crushing loss in Indiana, on Tuesday flirted with the idea of tossing his hat back into the ring while admitting the chances of that were slim.
Cruz, 45, said in an interview with conservative radio host Glenn Beck he would "respond accordingly" if he saw a viable path to winning the 2016 Republican nomination.
Beck, who campaigned heavily for Cruz in the senator's quest for the Republican nomination," asked the Texan whether he would consider getting back into the race if he won Nebraska's primary on Tuesday.
"I am not holding my breath," Cruz said to laughter on Beck's show on TheBlaze Radio Network. "My assumption is that that will not happen. ... The reason we suspended the race last week is with Indiana's loss I didn't see a viable path to victory."
"If that changes, we will certainly respond accordingly."
Trump's victory in Indiana last Tuesday pushed Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich out of the Republican race and put the brakes on the "Stop Trump" movements sparked by his unorthodox candidacy.
The Trump campaign on Tuesday dismissed the possibility of Cruz re-entering the race as highly unlikely.
"I think if Ted has a future in Republican politics in this country, I think he'll want to preserve that," Trump adviser Sam Clovis said on CNN. "By suspending his campaign and then trying to jump back in before the convention, I think it damages his brand."
The senator may be hoping to put his conservative imprint on the party's July 18-21 national convention in Cleveland. On Monday, he said he would not release delegates he had won in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, according to news reports.
Trump needs a majority of 1,237 convention delegates to clinch the nomination on the first ballot, and it is not guaranteed he will win them in the remaining nominating contests.
Cruz spoke glowingly of the conservative movement in the interview, saying it "remains strong and vibrant" despite the primary and caucus victories of a less conservative candidate.
Asked if he would endorse Trump, Cruz said every voter needs to make their own choice and they do not need to make it now.
"The Republican convention isn’t for another two-and-a-half months; the election isn’t for another six months," he said. "I think we need to watch and see what the candidates say and do."
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)