HOLLIS, N.H. — Ted Cruz tried to tie billionaire front-runner Donald Trump to the Washington, D.C., establishment last night, while bragging that his campaign had raised $700,000 in the hours since Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said the Texas U.S. senator should be defeated.
“Let me encourage other members of the establishment — keep supporting Donald Trump because every time you do, what it’s doing is you’re telling conservatives across the country where you stand and who stands with you,” Cruz said last night.
Cruz took aim at Trump and his other chief rival — Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — with a single one-liner, suggesting Rubio’s momentum was fading and Trump was backed by powerful interests.
“We’re seeing the Washington establishment abandoning Marco Rubio and unifying behind Donald Trump,” said Cruz. “And we’re seeing conservatives coming together and unifying behind our campaign. If conservatives unite, we win.”
Cruz took a punch from failed 1996 Republican presidential nominee and former Kansas U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who told The New York Times that Republicans would suffer “cataclysmic” and “wholesale losses” if Cruz is the nominee, calling him an “extremist” and questioning his ability to work with Congress because “nobody likes him.” Dole questioned Cruz’s allegiance to the party, noting he rarely uses the word “Republican” and instead refers to himself as a “conservative.”
In the year of the outsider, that may actually turn out to help Cruz in the long run.
Asked about the Dole dust-up, Cruz responded, “Well, listen, it’s exactly right that in terms of who I am, I’m a Christian first, I’m an American second, I’m a conservative third, and I’m a Republican fourth. And I’ll tell you, there are a whole lot of people in this country who feel exactly the same way, who are fed up with Republican leadership that makes all sorts of promises to get elected and then sells this country down the river.”
While the bus tour is a renewed focus on a state Cruz wasn’t expected to win earlier in the campaign, Trump was able to make Cruz pay for his absence in Iowa, pulling out the Sarah Palin endorsement in that state while Cruz was away. Cruz sent his wife Heidi Cruz and U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on a series of campaign stops in Iowa yesterday.
Still, there’s evidence Cruz’s newfound attention to New Hampshire may be paying off.
Cruz finished a surprising second in a new CNN/WMUR poll of Granite State Republicans that came out last night. But Trump still holds a commanding lead with 34 percent, compared to Cruz at 14 percent. Both Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are tied for third place with 10 percent.
Cruz is slated to make two campaign stops in Manchester, N.H., today.
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