Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) held an extended press conference on Wednesday to launch hard-hitting attacks against two of his leading GOP rivals: Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).
Cruz questioned the conservative credentials of both men and accused them of slinging mud on the campaign trail.
“Both of those campaigns, the only thing they can do is engage in insults and attacks,” Cruz said.
The Texas senator began the event by responding to a cease-and-desist letter he said Trump’s campaign sent him.
The Trump camp demanded Cruz take down an ad airing in South Carolina which includes a years-old clip of Trump stating his then-support for abortion rights. Cruz challenged Trump to file his lawsuit, saying that he may take on the case himself.
“Even in the annals of frivolous lawsuits, this takes the cake,” Cruz said. “So Donald, I would encourage you — if you want to file a lawsuit challenging this ad, claiming it is defamation, file the lawsuit. It is a remarkable contention that an ad that plays video of Donald Trump speaking on national television is somehow defamation.”
Cruz regularly returned to the theme of the truth, claiming that Trump was attempting to drown out conversations about issues by calling Cruz a liar. Cruz, who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, spoke at the press conference as if he were litigating a case.
“Whenever anyone does as this ad does, play the actual words that Donald Trump said on national television, his response is to yell, ‘Liar,'” Cruz said.
Though Cruz began with an extended criticism of Trump’s aggressive legal tactics, Cruz repeatedly pivoted to take shots at Rubio, who has also accused Cruz of lying about his record.
“It’s unfortunate he hasn’t gotten the traction he wanted,” Cruz said, noting Rubio’s fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. “Marco Rubio is behaving like Donald Trump with a smile,” he added.
Over the past week, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump have engaged in a pitched battle over campaign tactics, as Rubio and Trump have both accused the Cruz campaign of dirty campaigning. Cruz claimed at his press conference that Rubio’s campaign — not his — was the one launching so-called push polls that are designed to spread attack lines instead of surveying the electorate.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), a Rubio-backer, slammed the Cruz campaign on Tuesday for allegedly creating a fake Facebook page reporting Gowdy was no longer supporting Rubio.
“In the last week, we have seen a systematic effort by Senator Cruz and his allies to spread false information and outright lies in the hopes of winning votes by appealing to our lowest common denominator,” Gowdy said. “We can have a debate about the future of our party and our country. But we need not leave our integrity behind.”
But Cruz said he had nothing to do with the Facebook post.
For his part, Trump issued a statement firing back at Cruz and suggesting he may well file the lawsuit against his rival.
Trump claims that Cruz is probably not eligible to be president because the senator was born in Canada to an American mother. Many legal experts think Cruz is eligible, but the courts have not ruled on the issue.
View Trump’s response below:
“Time will tell, Teddy.”
NOW WATCH: Cruz: Trump would nuke Denmark
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