GOFFSTOWN, N.H. — In a spiraling war of words, GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is dismissing Donald Trump’s latest jibes as “another temper tantrum” after the mercurial billionaire accused the Texas senator of “total voter fraud” in his Iowa win and called him “a nasty guy.”
“It is no surprise that Donald is having another temper tantrum. Donald finds it very hard to lose,” Cruz told reporters on the campaign trail in New Hampshire — the latest battleground, ahead of Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary, which Trump is favored to win after his Midwest bruising.
Trump tweeted early yesterday that Iowa election officials should either order a new election or nullify Cruz’s results, then went on Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” show minutes later to say, “What he did is unthinkable. It’s a total voter fraud when you think of it. That’s why the polls were so wrong. (Cruz) put out a ‘voter violation’ certificate and it looks just like it was sent by government. I mean, the whole thing is incredible. It’s outlandish.”
Trump added, “Actually, I came in probably first, if you think about it.”
Iowa’s secretary of state has criticized mailers sent out Saturday to residents by the Cruz campaign, which were labeled “VOTING VIOLATION” and had “grades” purported to be scoring neighbors’ voting records and urging them to back Cruz at the caucuses.
“Look, he’s a nasty guy,” Trump said of Cruz, whose win has been largely credited to his support among evangelicals and an aggressive ground game. “Nobody likes him … I’m pro-life. He told everybody I was pro-choice. This guy is really fraudulent.”
Trump also noted Cruz’s campaign had falsely told Iowa voters that Dr. Ben Carson had dropped out of the Republican primary — a mini-scandal that erupted Monday night.
“Essentially, they said, ‘He’s quitting the race, vote for me,’ and many people did that,” Trump said.
Cruz, who won in Iowa by 3 points over Trump, said the New York real estate tycoon’s insults “get more and more hysterical.”
“I wake up every day and laugh at his latest tweet,” Cruz said. “We need a commander in chief, not a twitterer in chief.”
Cruz said he has no plans to “scapegoat” anyone on his staff over the Carson flap. He said his team had merely passed along a “true and accurate” CNN story that the retired neurosurgeon planned to go home to Florida after the Iowa caucuses rather than head straight to New Hampshire or South Carolina, where the next primary contests will be held.
Cruz said he apologized to Carson, whom he called a “terrific man.”
Cruz also challenged Trump to debate him one-on-one. “And if he’s afraid of Megyn Kelly,” he said, referring to the Fox News anchor Trump has locked horns with, the debate could be moderated by someone else or done town hall-style.
“He can’t debate the substance,” Cruz said.
Cruz has an uphill battle against Trump in the Granite State, where the latest Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll, taken just before the Iowa caucuses, found the New Yorker with a 25-point lead — 38 percent to the conservative Texan’s 13 percent.
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