Cruz rips up truce with Trump in Republican presidential debate



The long and awkward truce between anti-establishment favorites Donald Trump and Ted Cruz blew apart at the Republican debate Thursday as the two men battling for first place in the Iowa caucuses tore into each other over Cruz’s eligibility to be president.

Trump has raised the “birther” issue in recent days over Cruz’s birth in Canada to an American mother — acknowledging he has done so as Cruz has strengthened in the polls — and Cruz accused him of political expediency.

“Since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed,” Cruz said in the forum aired on the Fox Business Network. “But the poll numbers have.”

It was by far the sharpest exchange of the night — and a rare point of disagreement among the seven men on stage — who spent the rest of debate tearing into President Barack Obama, and not each other. In doing so, they left their standing coming out the debate roughly the same as when they went in: Trump and Cruz battling for the mantle of front-runner in the Feb. 1 Iowa contest, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s strong performance keeping him the most likely establishment contender for the nomination but in a distant third place.

Here is the tale of the tape:

Cruz’s citizenship

It was sure to be the main event of the debate in North Charleston, South Carolina — Trump vs. Cruz over whether the Texas senator can be president. For Republican primary viewers trying to decide between them, the exchange didn’t disappoint.

In recent days, Trump — who once questioned whether Obama was born in Hawaii — has questioned whether Cruz might not meet the constitutional requirement that the president be a “natural-born citizen.” Trump said he merely wanted to save the party the consequences of nominating Cruz for president — or even perhaps of being Trump’s own vice presidential running mate — only to find out he would get kicked off the ballot.

Trump said that while he didn’t personally consider Cruz’s birth an issue, he was certain that Democrats would bring a lawsuit.

“There’s a big overhang, there’s a big question mark. And you can’t do that to the party,” Trump said.

He also repeatedly invoked Laurence Tribe, Cruz’s Harvard law school professor who has written that the senator could be ineligible.

Cruz was having none of it.

Cruz has said the fact his mother was an American citizen and that he immediately received U.S. citizenship satisfies any questions about the issue, and argued Trump’s motivations were political.

He stepped up that defense Thursday, noting that Trump had said in September he believed Cruz could serve as president. He also noted that John McCain, the GOP nominee in 2008, and George Romney, the Michigan governor — and father of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney — who ran for president had both been born abroad.

And Cruz dismissed Tribe as partisan — noting he supports Hillary Clinton’s candidacy — and said there was zero chance of “litigation proceeding and succeeding on this area.”

Cruz finances

Cruz came into the night knowing he would have to answer for reports questioning whether he failed to properly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. during his 2012 Senate campaign.

The good news for Cruz, though, is that none of his opponents attacked him on it. He gave a series of answers that may well have put the issue to rest for many Republican primary voters.

First, he unleashed an attack on the media: “Thank you for passing along that hit piece on the front page of the New York Times,” Cruz quipped to moderator Maria Bartiromo.

Then he suggested he needed the money solely because he is such an outsider that few establishment donors would back him in his run for the U.S. Senate.

And lastly, he tried to brush it off as a “paperwork error,” with no intent to shield the loan from disclosure. He finished, and the debate moved on.

The Times reported that the Texas senator didn’t inform the Federal Election Commission about the two personal loans, although he listed them on his Senate personal financial disclosure. His wife is an investment banker for Goldman Sachs in Houston, but is currently on leave as the senator campaigns for president.

Cruz’s campaign said he would amend any necessary campaign filings.

“If that’s the best hit the New York Times has got, they better go back to the well,” he said.

Iran confrontation

With Iran showing a video of 10 American sailors kneeling in custody, the Republican candidates were eager to criticize Obama’s handling of foreign policy. They offered sharp sound bites and sought to one-up one another with colorful criticisms of the administration.

What they didn’t offer: specifics on how they would have handled the incident differently.

On Tuesday, 10 American sailors who entered Iranian waters were detained overnight before being released. One of the sailors was videotaped apologizing for the incident, while a female crew member was given a head scarf to wear.

No doubt, the timing was awkward for Obama, who used his State of the Union speech that night to tout the Iranian nuclear deal without mentioning the incident, and Republicans took full advantage.

“No serviceman or servicewoman will be forced to be on their knees” by a foreign power, if he’s president, Cruz said.

Rubio extended the criticism to Democratic front-runner Clinton, saying she had “disqualified” herself from the job by mishandling classified information in her e-mails and “lying” to the families of those killed in the Benghazi attacks.

Chris Christie joked that the president’s State of the Union reminded him of “story time” and that Secretary of State John Kerry’s handling of the Iran naval incident was “disgraceful.” U.S. ships shouldn’t be seized by “tin-pot dictators like the mullahs in Iran,” the New Jersey governor said.

But Cruz also inaccurately exaggerated the results of the Iranian nuclear deal, slamming Obama over the agreement and saying the president was on the verge of handing over “$100 billion or more to the Ayatollah.”

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has said the frozen Iranian assets that will become available for the government in Tehran is far less. “In reality, $58 to $59 billion of that is unavailable — roughly $20 billion is tied up in contracts like China, and the balance is things like nonperforming loans,” Lew told Congress last year.

While none of the candidates provided detailed plans on how they would tackle Iran or Islamic State terrorists, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush provided a rambling answer that touched on Dodd-Frank financial reform and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into Clinton’s e-mail practices. And Trump stumbled through a defense of his call to ban Muslim immigration, a proposal that has come under fire from both the White House and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union.

Rubio attacks

Cruz and Trump provided most of the action, but Rubio scored points late with a withering attack on Cruz’s voting record, another in a series of strong debate performances that haven’t translated into a big leap in the polls.

Painting the Texas senator as a political opportunist, Rubio said Cruz had shifted his stance on expanding visas for high-tech workers, allowing more guest workers and legalizing undocumented immigrants. Rubio said Cruz had joined Sens. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, and Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, in voting against the defense authorization bill.

Rubio also said Cruz was pandering to Iowa voters by flipping his votes on crop insurance and ethanol.

“That’s not consistent conservatism,” Rubio said.

Cruz swiped back, saying he appreciated Rubio “dumping your oppo-research folder on the debate stage.” He blasted Rubio’s previous decision to back a comprehensive immigration overhaul, saying he should have foreseen the risks in doing so.

Rubio also scored points on one of his establishment opponents: Christie.

Rubio said Christie had donated to Planned Parenthood, a target of Republicans because it performs abortions, and hit his record as governor of New Jersey.

The Florida senator also elicited strong and sustained applause by attacking two people not on the stage: Obama and Clinton.

Rubio said Obama “has consistently underestimated the threat of ISIS,” an acronym for Islamic State. And Rubio said he was “convinced that if this president could get rid of every gun in America, he would.”

Clinton is “disqualified from being commander-in-chief” over her use of a private e-mail server to conduct State Department business, he said.

New York values

A smirking attack by Cruz on Trump’s “New York values” gave the real estate mogul the opportunity to defend his hometown — and provide one of his strongest debate moments yet.

While Cruz elicited some applause and laughter when he painted New Yorkers as socially liberal and fixated on money and the media, Trump passionately invoked the city’s response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely,” Trump said, prompting loud applause in the auditorium.

Trump, who has developed major construction projects around the city, described the “horrific cleanup” in the aftermath of the attack and the “smell of death” that lingered in the air.

And the Texas senator’s quip that “not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan” could come as a surprise to the Wall Street donors the eventual Republican nominee will need to help underwrite their campaign.

Trump defended the city’s population as family-oriented, and said National Review founder and conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. hailed from the city.

“That was a very insulting statement that Ted made,” Trump said.

  • Pastor Burt


    Cruz was stupid tonight in the Fox debate, and when he looks back on this debate he will in time realize that he really hurt himself, and his campaign. Tonight, the candidates should have been totally focused on winning Iowa and New Hampshire. First of all, Trump had his best night as a debater, and I believe he won the debate. But whether or not Trump won or did not win the debate is secondary to Cruz’s performance. Winning in politics is not making mistakes and tonight Cruz made a very big mistake.

    Iowa only has 30 delegates in a proportional caucus. Were Cruz to with Iowa, he can only win a couple more delegates then the candidate who comes in second, in this case Donald Trump. If Trump wins Iowa, then Cruz ends up with a few delegates less. Thus the practical difference between coming in first or second in Iowa is simply not all that significant if significant at all.

    But here is what went wrong for Cruz. What Cruz did was he lost his cool and denigrated not merely Donald Trump for coming from New York, but everyone who lives is a New Yorker. New Yorkers won’t forget that. The point is, New York is going to have its own Republican Primary. Being as optimistic as one can be for Cruz, he may well be in 2nd place prior to Iowa’s vote. However, after blasting New York and New Yorkers in general, be assured that Cruz has now no chance of winning the New York Republican primary.

    New York’s proportional primary offers 88 delegates, but a candidate has to get at least 20% of the primary vote to get any of those delegates. Ask yourself, what chance has Cruz have of getting 20% of New Yorker’s to now vote for him? The answer is no chance whatsoever. Donald Trump will carry Cruz words into that New York primary and hang Cruz’s insult to New Yorkers around Cruz’s neck. Are their any other candidates other than Trump who can get 20% of the Republican Primary vote in New York? The answer is none, which means by loosing his cool with a cheap shot to Trump, Cruz just gave all 88 New York delegates to Donald Trump. That’s being stupid; really stupid.

    So here is what Cruz accomplished in this critical debate. He may or may not a couple delegates more than Trump in Iowa. But what he lost for being stupid is 88 delegates to Donald Trump for the New York Republican primary still in the future. For Cruz, this has to be his worst day in his entire presidential campaign. He has shot himself in the head big time.


    Pastor Burt

  • Luigi Valentino

    Ted Cruz was legally born a Cuban because of his father. Mothers are not considered when determining “Natural-Born” Citizenship.

    Extending citizenship to non-citizens through birth based solely upon locality is nothing more than mere municipal law that has no extra-territorial effect as proven from the English practice of it. On the other hand, citizenship by descent through the FATHER is natural law and is recognized by all nations (what nation doesn’t recognize citizenship of children born wherever to their own citizens?). Thus, a natural-born citizen is one whose citizenship is recognized by law of nations rather than mere local recognition.

    Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, James F. Wilson of Iowa, confirmed this in 1866: “We must depend on the general law relating to subjects and citizens recognized by all nations for a definition, and that must lead us to the conclusion that every person born in the United States is a natural-born citizen of such States, except that of children born on our soil to temporary sojourners or representatives of foreign Governments.”*

    When a child inherits the citizenship of their FATHER, they become a natural-born citizen of the nation their FATHER belongs regardless of where they might be born. It should be pointed out that citizenship through descent of the FATHER was recognized by U.S. Naturalization law whereby children became citizens themselves as soon as their FATHER had become a naturalized citizen, or were born in another country to a citizen FATHER.

    Yes, birth is prima facie evidence of citizenship, but only the citizenship of the nation the FATHER is a member.

    * Temporary sojourners like transient aliens were a description applied to aliens other than resident aliens. The difference being temporary aliens were here for temporary purposes, such as work, travel, visitation or school, who had no desire to become citizens or was prevented from becoming citizens by law. Resident aliens were those who desired to become citizens and had renounced their prior allegiances and had taken the legal steps to become citizens or reside within some state per state law.

    UPDATE: In regards to questions about the citizenship of the mother: Mothers citizenship rarely ever influenced the citizenship of their children except in certain situations such as the father dying before the child was born or when the identity of the father was unknown.

  • Felipe Contreras

    Trump & Cruz … Political Racist …Trash :)