With the news poll showing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz climbing to the top spot, Donald Trump has gone on the attack to try to reclaim his position.
Over the weekend, J. Ann Selzer, known as one of the top pollsters in the nation, issued a new report showing Cruz was up on Trump and the rest of the Republican field with 31 percent of the vote, 10 points higher than Trump.
“This is a sudden move finto a commanding position for Cruz,” Selzer told the Des Moines Register, while pointing out Cruz’s 21-point rocket to the top was the largest surge for any one candidate in recent Iowa caucus history.
The poll is the first one conducted in the Hawkeye state since Trump made his controversial remarks about banning Muslims from entering the United States, albeit temporarily. It also invokes a sigh of relief among certain Republicans who have expressed concern that the outspoken businessman would end up as the GOP nominee, though the equally-controversial senator is not a fan favorite, either.
With the new results showing Trump’s falling status, the real estate mogul took to the offensive, attacking his opponent as “a bit of a maniac” and claiming Cruz does not have the temperament to be commander in chief.
“The way he’s dealt with the Senate — where goes in frankly like a bit of a maniac — you never get things done that way,” Trump told Chris Wallace on Fox News’ “Sunday” program. “You can’t walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars and not be able to cajole and get along with people.”
For his part, Trump claims he has “much better temperament” than Cruz.
“I actually get along with people much better than he does,” Trump told CNN without not going into detail.
Trump has been struggling in the polls over the past week, especially in Iowa where Cruz has had the lead in the previous three reports. The drop has coincided with a number of remarks the businessman has made about Muslims in the wake of the Paris attacks and the attack in San Bernardino. Despite his remarks, though, focus groups have shown a deep loyalty to Trump with voters explaining away comments and actions that would normally sink a campaign.
To push against Cruz, similar to what he did against Ben Carson when the retired neurosurgeon held the lead just over a month ago, Trump attacked the senator’s personality and judgement.
“My judgment is great,” Trump said. “I built a multi-multi-multi-billion-dollar company, some of the greatest assets in the world, tremendously big, No. 1 bestsellers, including ‘The Art of the Deal’ — which may be the biggest and best in terms of the business books — tremendous television show called ‘The Apprentice’ that lasted for 14 seasons.”
The multi-billion-dollar company Trump refers to is The Trump Company, built by his father Fred Trump and run by the candidate, has enabled Trump’s net worth to be valued at around $4 billion by some estimates and $8 billion by Donald Trump’s. It pales in comparison to Warren Buffett, who had $1 billion around the same time as the candidate in the 1980s. Today, Buffett is worth $63 billion.
The poll by Selzer also showed over one-third of the likely Republican voters (or caucus goers for the Iowa election) believe Crus has the “best temperament to be president,” running counter to Trump’s claims. Trump was at just 11 percent by the same group.
Bryan English, Cruz’s Iowa campaign director, said in a statement that there was more work to be done, but “we can definitively say the message is working.”
That message has been to tie closely to Trump throughout the campaign, tempering responses to the businessman’s rhetoric to avoid confrontation, and then swooping in to take away Trump’s support after supporters abandon the one-time frontrunner.
This has not set well with Trump, who blasted the poll as “biased,” and referencing a CNN/ORC poll that gives him a 13-point lead over Cruz. The CNN poll was conducted before the Muslim comments caught the nation’s attention and showed Cruz already gaining steam, advancing 9 percent from the previous month. The poll also surveyed adults and self-identified likely voters as opposed to just likely voters from the Des Moines Register poll.
Cruz, for his part, continues to refuse to tussle with Trump, tweeting on Friday that he would not be drawn into a “cage match” against his opponent. This was as Trump addressed a rally in Des Moines, saying that while he likes Cruz, “not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all fairness. It’s true.” Cruz is half-Cuban from his father’s side, though he was born in Alberta, Canada and a U.S. citizen.