Real-estate mogul Donald Trump tweaked presidential rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday for taking a number of hits at the debate the night before.
“Cruz … got pummelled last night. Actually, I’m glad I wasn’t there,” Trump told his supporters in Nashua, New Hampshire.
He added: “He got pummelled. Wow.”
Trump boycotted the Fox News debate on Thursday after repeatedly complaining about Fox host Megyn Kelly, one of the debate moderators.
After a back and forth between Trump and the network, the Republican presidential front-runner suddenly announced he would instead host a fundraiser for veterans at the same time as the debate.
On Friday morning, Trump also returned to his favourite attack line against Cruz: his birth in Canada.
“And they didn’t even mention that he was born in Canada, right?” Trump said of the Fox News debate. “When you’re born in Canada, you’re not supposed to be running for president of the United States. “Prime minister of Canada, no problem. No, no, he can run for Canada. Prime minister of Canada, no problem.”
He later referred to Cruz as an “anchor baby in Canada,” using a derogatory term for a child born to a non-citizen mother to a country that provides birthright citizenship.
Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother, and most legal experts believe he meets the Constitution’s requirement that presidents are “natural-born” citizens. But Trump raises doubt about Cruz’s eligibility almost daily.
The Texas senator, who is Trump’s top rival in Monday’s Iowa caucus, took a number of hits at the debate from both his rivals and the moderators. At one point, Cruz even mocked Trump’s absence by joking: “Gosh, if you guys ask me one more mean question, I may have to leave the stage.”
Trump predicted that Cruz’s poll numbers would go down and claimed that his have already gone up, although there hasn’t been enough time for any full surveys to be conducted.
“So he got beaten up pretty badly last night. I don’t know what’s going to happen to his poll numbers, but probably they’re not going up. And I was just told that ours went up because of what we did last night. Isn’t that something?” Trump marveled.
“It tells you a little bit about risk,” he added. “Because risk is interesting. In theory, I would have rather have done the debate. Because [when] you’re leading, you don’t want to change the wheels, right? You want to just go, get it done, win, and go to the next one.”
Trump also said even if it wasn’t in his best interest to skip the debate, helping veterans with his fundraiser was “the right thing to do.”
“I took a chance,” he said. “I mean, I took a chance. And It’s something you have to do. But I took a chance.”
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