Ted Cruz amped up his criticism of Republican rival Donald Trump and his campaign, responding to the Trump campaign’s accusations of “Gestapo tactics” by suggesting that Trump and his staff have been behaving like “union boss thugs.”
During a CNN town-hall event with Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, the Texas senator said Trump and his team were almost like “subjects in a clinical course in psychology.”
“There are all sorts of different behaviours they display, but one of them is projection, that the conduct they do regularly they accuse everyone else of doing,” Cruz said.
“So literally, in the last few weeks, Donald’s team, Roger Stone, his chief political adviser, was threatening to out the hotel rooms of delegates who dared to cross Trump so they could be intimidated. They’re acting like union boss thugs,” he continued.
Cooper pointed out that Stone is no longer officially with the Trump campaign, though he remains an informal adviser.
But in the latest developing escalation between the two leading Republican candidates, Cruz also accused Trump’s supporters of distributing the home address and phone numbers of the Colorado Republican Party’s chairman and of threatening delegates in Indiana.
“He got thousands of phone calls, he got death threats,” Cruz said of the Colorado GOP chairman. “Trump supporters were telling the supporters go to his house and bring their guns. Look, violence doesn’t belong in democracy. And the Trump campaign encourages it over and over again.”
Cruz’s statement came in response to Cooper asking about recent comments from Trump adviser Paul Manafort, who said Cruz was using “Gestapo tactics, the scorched-earth tactics” in securing delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.
Trump is the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, with Cruz in second place in the delegate count. The rivalry between the two has heated up this week after Cruz won last weekend’s Colorado conventions. Trump has called the state’s rules for awarding delegates “unfair” and charged that average people in the state were stripped of their ability to cast votes.
While most states hold primaries and caucuses that allow voters to weigh in on who they want as their party’s nominee, Colorado’s system puts more of the power within the hands of party insiders and activists who turned out for the convention events.
Cruz criticised Trump at length for complaining about the nominee-selection process, calling his argument about the process being unfair “ludicrous”:
There is one way, and there’s only one way that you earn the Republican nomination. That is you earn the votes of a majority of the delegates elected by the people. Going back to 1860, that has been consistently for more than a century how the Republican Party — how we’ve picked our nominee.
And if Donald can’t get a majority, and the reason he’s throwing such a fit is the odds are looking more and more likely that he can’t get a majority, then we’re going to go to Cleveland. And in Cleveland, I believe, if it’s a contested convention, I’ll have a ton of delegates, he’ll have a ton of delegates. And in that situation, we’re going to be in the much stronger position, I believe, to earn a majority of the delegates and to continue uniting the party.
Cruz’s campaign is focusing on winning enough delegates to force a contested Republican convention in Cleveland this summer. To win the nomination outright, a candidate needs 1,237 delegates.
If no one in the party wins that many through state contests, the convention could become deadlocked. And after a first round of voting, many delegates that would be bound to Trump on the first ballot could vote for whomever they want on subsequent ballots.