Real-estate mogul Donald Trump unloaded on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), his top primary rival, for more than eight minutes during a Wednesday campaign speech in Iowa.
Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, started with his favourite anti-Cruz topic: Canada.
Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother, and most legal experts believe he qualifies as “natural-born” citizen to run for president under the US Constitution. But Trump says he isn’t so sure.
“I’m very good when it comes to the law. I’ve been through plenty of law,” Trump said after declaring that “anchor babies” aren’t guaranteed US citizenship if they’re born on US soil. (This also flies against the current legal consensus.)
“Speaking of law: Ted. Do we all like Ted Cruz? I like him,” Trump continued.
“A lot of people don’t like him, frankly,” he marveled. “But look, Ted Cruz has a problem. He’s got a problem. He was born in Canada. He’s a Canadian citizen until just recently. Canadian citizen! And he’s running for president.”
Trump claimed that “a lot of lawyers” believe Cruz isn’t eligible for the presidency. He also said some of the best attorneys in the country believe that Cruz’s eligibility is “unsettled law” because the courts have yet to rule on the issue. He speculated on what would happen if Cruz won the Republican nomination.
“Let’s see you have him as a candidate. And he’s running. And then you find out you lose in court. You don’t have a candidate all of a sudden,” Trump said. “Or lets say even worse: Let’s say he wins and the courts say that he’s not allowed to run. I mean, you’ve got to find out.”
He asked: “How can you be running with a cloud over your head?”
Trump then compared Cruz’s situation to the questions dogging Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email server at the State Department.
“Hillary’s running with a cloud over her head, too,” Trump said, laughing at a supporter in the crowd who said “indictment.”
Trump continued to riff for a while about Cruz’s eligibility and then switched over to his other attack line against Cruz: a pair of unreported bank loans that helped finance his 2012 Senate race in Texas. The New York Times first reported last week on the loans, which were from Goldman Sachs and Citibank.
Cruz dismissed the issue as a “paperwork error,” but Trump called it a “big no-no” and “absolutely wrong” during his Wednesday event.
“Here’s a guy with two bank loans — that we know of,” Trump said. “Goldman Sachs owns him. Remember that folks: They own him. And what he did was wrong. Because he didn’t want you to know that he’s dealing with banks,” he added.
Trump said Cruz claiming ignorance on both the citizenship and the bank-loan reports was “worse than Hillary, when you think about it.”
Later, Trump hailed Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) for publicly stating this week that Iowans should not support Cruz. Branstad noted Cruz’s opposition to the ethanol fuel subsidies that help fund the state’s corn industry. But Trump said Branstad’s opposition to Cruz “has to do more than with ethanol.”
“He’s an amazing guy, I can tell you that,” Trump said of Branstad.
For his part, Cruz has also dished out attacks left and right against Trump as the two have locked horns for the past two weeks. Although Trump is ahead nationally, the two candidates are roughly tied among likely Iowa caucus-goers, who on February 1 will be first voters to weigh in on the Republican primary.
In 16 minutes of a Monday radio interview, Cruz hit Trump for bragging about his dealmaking ability, for expressing support for the bank bailout, for praising President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, for once supporting universal healthcare, for giving money to Democrats, for not speaking out when Congress was debating comprehensive immigration reform, for contributing to the Clinton Foundation, for supposedly flip-flopping too recently on the issues, and for once touting socially liberal views, among other things.
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