Yesterday we reported that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz seemed to be preparing to go to war with each other. A few hours later, however, Cruz himself responded on Twitter by saying that, although the media would love to see a cage match between himself and the billionaire businessman, he won’t play along.
That could — and by all means should — have been the end of it.
Sadly it is not. Trump can also read polls and understands that Cruz poses a serious threat to him in Iowa. And so the cage match has started, whether Cruz likes it or not:
The New Yorker spent more time on Friday poking Cruz for opposing ethanol subsidies, which are widely popular there. Independent groups there are beginning to spend money against Cruz for his position, which Trump told a questioner was “anti-Iowa.” Cruz says the subsidies are an example of government interference in the free market.
The Donald literally said:
With the ethanol, really, he’s got to come a long way, ’cause right now he’s for the oil. But I understand it, oil pays him a lot of money. He’s got to be for oil, right? But I’m with you. I’m self-funding. I have no oil company. I have no special interest.
Of course The Donald is a special interest, but it would be rather inconvenient for him to point that out. And so he’s playing the self-funding card once again, hoping it’ll give him the edge, while defending crony capitalism.
Trump apparently thinks that he can win Iowa by defending ethanol subsidies. This is what he does: he tries to buy people’s votes. The difference with Cruz is stark: the senator from Texas chooses principles over short-term political gain. Unlike what Trump seems to believe, this principled approach to politics is one of the main reasons very conservative and evangelical voters are enamored with Cruz.
Trump also went after Cruz for his heritage — the senator’s father is from Cuba — and his religious beliefs:
I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba. Not a lot come out.
What is he trying to say here? That as a Cuban-American, Cruz should be Catholic? So what does that mean? He’s lying about his religious beliefs? And why would Trump refer to Cruz’s Cuban ancestry from his father’s side? You’d almost think he’s trying to tell white Iowa evangelicals that Cruz isn’t one of them. “He’s an immigrant!”
Is that all Trump has against him? If so, the businessman may be in more trouble than he realizes. His attacks are actually playing to Cruz’s strengths — his Hispanic background, his impeccable conservative credentials — rather than to his weaknesses.
If I were Cruz, I’d send Trump an email to thank him for pointing out that he, Cruz, is the only real conservative in this race, and then post the text of the email on Twitter.