Real-estate mogul Donald Trump found a creative way on Wednesday to reframe his Obamacare back-and-forth with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
During a Wednesday-night speech in Little Rock, Arkansas, Trump claimed his leading presidential primary rival was responsible for the Affordable Care Act’s key provisions twice being upheld by the Supreme Court.
“If it weren’t for Ted Cruz — he’s the one that got Justice Roberts onto the United States Supreme Court. He pushed him. He approved him,” Trump said.
“And Justice Roberts approved Obamacare twice when it should have been rejected,” he added. “His vote got it over the top. Ted Cruz did that. Ted Cruz gave us Obamacare, believe me.”
Trump overstated Cruz’s role in Roberts’ appointment to the high court in 2005. Cruz, who was Texas’ solicitor general at the time, repeatedly praised Roberts’ credentials. Cruz wouldn’t enter the Senate, which debates and approves Supreme Court nominees, until 2013.
Trump blasted Cruz on the issue after accusing him of lying about Trump’s own support for President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation.
“These guys are bad. I mean, they are bad,” Trump said of Cruz. “And then he’ll get up and he’ll talk about his relationship with God, his relationship with the Bible, his relationship with all sorts of things, and then he’ll say, ‘Donald Trump loves Obamacare.'”
He added: “Now everybody in this room knows I’ve been opposed to it so strongly. It would have been dead if we had a different justice on the United States Supreme Court [who was] put there by him.”
Cruz and at least one of his super PACs frequently highlight Trump’s past support for a left-leaning universal-healthcare policy, though Trump vows to repeal Obamacare if elected.
Indeed, Cruz’s campaign spokesman responded to Trump’s charge by telling The Associated Press: “Trump’s claim is ridiculous, especially considering that he has advocated and supported a single-payer healthcare system along with many other social-liberal policies.”
Trump has launched an escalating series of attacks against Cruz since Monday, when the senator beat him in the Iowa caucuses despite his lead in the polls ahead of the vote. Cruz responded by saying Trump couldn’t handle defeat and was becoming unhinged.
Trump repeatedly latched onto a new argument on Wednesday to claim that he should actually be declared the winner of Iowa.
On the night of the Iowa caucuses, Cruz’s campaign distributed a CNN report on retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s seemingly unusual plan to fly home to Florida early and rest instead of moving on directly to the next primary states.
As a result, some Cruz supporters and other political observers speculated that Carson was about to drop out. Carson issued a statement denying the rumours and would later accuse Cruz of “dirty tricks.” Cruz apologised for his campaign not also distributing Carson’s denial.
Trump raged on Twitter throughout the day on Wednesday and accused Cruz of “illegally” stealing the Iowa results. Trump called for the unprecedented step of either a do-over vote — or for Cruz’s results to be nullified.
Early Thursday morning, Trump again suggested that his second-place showing in Iowa should be moved up to first place.
“Ted Cruz should be immediately disqualified in Iowa, with each candidate moving up one notch,” he tweeted.
Trump has attacked Cruz on a host of other issues, including an provocative Cruz campaign mailer that warned some potential caucus-goers of a “voter violation.” The mailer gave its recipients and their neighbours a fake grade based on their supposed record of showing up to vote.
In another Thursday-morning tweet, Trump suggested that the mailer was a possible felony:
Cruz’s mailer was embracing a trick of political psychology: According to at least one study, people were more likely to vote when informed about the public nature of their voting histories. Another presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), also released a “report card” mailer, though Rubio’s was less heavy-handed than Cruz’s.
Trump has also not stopped blasting Cruz for being born in Canada.
“The people of this country are great, if you want to know the truth. The people of our country are great. And we don’t need a president who was born in Canada, do we agree?” Trump asked his supporters Wednesday night.
Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother, and most legal experts believe he meets the Constitution’s requirement that presidents be “natural born” citizens. But Trump frequently warns that if Cruz becomes the GOP nominee, Democrats would sue and potentially disqualify him from the presidency.
“That is a real problem,” Trump said at his Arkansas rally. “All you need to do is give somebody a little bit of a thing called ‘the nomination.’ Within about 24 hours, the Democrats are going to be suing, and they could very well win based on a lot of constitutional law and a lot of lawyers.”
He added: “You know, you shouldn’t be running for president if you’re not allowed to serve, OK?”
NOW WATCH: Watch Trump go head-to-head with a reporter and attack Megyn Kelly for being a ‘lightweight reporter’
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.