Real-estate mogul Donald Trump contrasted his own “evangelical” beliefs with US Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) religious beliefs at a Friday-night campaign rally.
“I am an evangelical. I’m a Christian. I’m a Presbyterian,” Trump said, speaking in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Republican presidential front-runner then highlighted the fact that Cruz’s father is Cuban.
“We’re doing really well with the evangelicals,” he continued. “And by the way, and again, I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all fairness. It’s true. Not a lot come out. But I like him nevertheless.”
Trump’s comments about Cruz’s religion were somewhat similar to what he said about presidential rival Ben Carson’s own Seventh-day Adventist faith earlier this year, when Carson was challenging Trump in Iowa polls.
“I love Iowa. And look, I don’t have to say it: I’m Presbyterian. Can you believe it?” Trump said then at a rally while discussing Carson’s Iowa poll numbers. “I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”
Like Carson then, Cruz just started to surge in Iowa, the influential first caucus state, though a pair of recent polls disagreed about whether Trump or Cruz was ahead there. Evangelical voters have an outsize role in Iowa’s Republican electorate.
Cruz frequently jokes that he is Southern Baptist even though his parents come from traditionally Catholic countries. “I’m Cuban, Irish, and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist,” Cruz said at one event, for example.
Trump recently started attacking Cruz after long refusing to do so. Unlike most of the GOP presidential field, Cruz has also consistently refused to criticise Trump even as the billionaire businessman ignited multiple national firestorms with provocative comments and policy proposals.
But Cruz was quoted questioning Trump’s foreign-policy “judgment” at a closed-door event earlier this week. Trump responded on Friday morning on Twitter. Trump wrote that Cruz shouldn’t say things privately to his “bosses” — Trump’s term for Cruz’s donors — that he wouldn’t say in public:
Cruz’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider about Trump’s Cuba comments.
But the senator made clear on Twitter that he would not be going after Trump, whom he called “terrific”:
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