Trump launches Twitter jihad on Ted Cruz as front-runners’ war of words escalates
Republican frontrunner hits senator with series of tweets about Canada, banks, and Canadian banks as Cruz reportedly plans new attacks of his own
The Donald Trump-Ted Cruz bromance isn’t just over : it’s turned into all-out war.
On Saturday morning, Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, used Twitter to fire a fierce broadside at the Texas senator, whom he called a “ natural born Canadian ”, “ owned ” by the big banks.
Cruz is Trump’s closest rival for the Republican presidential nomination. Saturday’s tweets saw Trump testing out a variety of attacks, to see which, if any, resonate with voters.
The website Politico , meanwhile, reported that the Cruz campaign was preparing new attacks against Trump. It quoted a “surrogate” of the Cruz organisation, former South Carolina attorney general Charlie Condon, as saying: “He’s pro-choice. He’s pro-gay marriage. He’s against traditional values. He’s New York, and he’s got to talk about that.”
Trump and Cruz clashed repeatedly in Thursday’s presidential debate over whether Cruz’s Canadian birthplace disqualified him from the presidency, and whether Trump embodied “New York values”, which Cruz said were not compatible with conservatism.
Although Cruz acquired American citizenship at birth through his mother, some have argued that as he was born abroad and to a Cuban father, he does not meet the constitutional requirement of being “a natural-born citizen” and is therefore ineligible to serve in the White House.
Trump admitted in Thursday’s debate that he only brought up the issue because of Cruz’s rise in the polls.
The two also sparred over Cruz’s claim that Trump embodied “New York values”. The Texas senator described these as “socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage, focus[ed] around money and the media”.
Trump, whose real-estate empire is based in New York, had the best of that exchange, as he invoked the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
“When the World Trade Center came down,” he said, “I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.”
He returned to the subject in an interview with CNN, taped for broadcast on Sunday, saying: “I thought it was very, very insulting.”
On Friday, confronted by reporters outside a campaign event in Columbia, South Carolina, Cruz declined to apologize for his comments. He instead used the opportunity to jab at Democratic politicians in New York state.
“I apologize to the millions of New Yorkers who have been let down by liberal politicians in the state,” he said. Cruz then attacked the policies of the state’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, and New York City mayor Bill De Blasio.
The New York Times was the first newspaper, meanwhile, to report the news that Cruz received two undisclosed loans during his 2012 campaign for the US Senate. One loan came from Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment bank that employs Cruz’s wife, Heidi. The other came from Citibank.
Trump ended by bringing Cruz’s loans and birthplace together in one attack. He tweeted: “Based on the fact that Ted Cruz was born in Canada and is therefore a ‘natural born Canadian’, did he borrow unreported loans from C[anadian] banks?”
Trump has long argued on the campaign trail that his wealth insulates him from undue influence from Wall Street. A billionaire, he has repeatedly said he is “self-funding”. In fact, just as with every other candidate, his campaign relies on donations.
It is unclear whether Trump’s charge that “the banks own [Cruz]” will have any impact. However, it is clear that it marks a new and far more brutal stage of the Republican primary, with just over two weeks left before the Iowa caucuses.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2016