Since the start of the holiday season, Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz have gone from friendly foes to outright opponents. The punches have ranged from Trump’s questioning of Cruz’s religion and eligibility to become president (the Texas Senator was born in Canada to an American woman) to Cruz claiming Trump has jumped the shark in the campaign for the Republican nomination for president.
Now, Trump has turned to a new problem: Cruz is stealing his ideas.
“People are picking up all of my ideas, including Ted, who started talking about building a wall two days ago,” Trump said to a POLITICO reporter on Tuesday. “The fact is, they won’t get it built, they don’t know how to do the job and they won’t get Mexico to pay for it.”
Trump mentioned the problem of Cruz using the wall as his idea on Sunday, was well, saying that he was “watching the other day. And I was watching Ted talk. And he said, ‘We will build a wall.’ The first time I’ve ever heard him say it.”
Cruz’ aides have said their candidate, not Trump, first approached the idea of a secured border along Mexico long before Trump jumped into the race last summer. But recently, Cruz has been placing the wall idea in a more prominent position when talking about immigration.
“He’s been working on these things a long time and long before Donald Trump announced his candidacy,” Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Tyler said. The Texas Republican was an opponent of the immigration bill in 2013 because it did not include deporting illegal immigrants and securing the border. He supported an amendment by Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) that would have required “the completion of 350 miles of reinforced, double layered fencing” along the Mexican prior to “registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. This also included the completion of another 350 miles before permanent resident status could be granted. The amendment failed.
Prior to that, Cruz mentioned the wall during his primary debate for the seat he now holds.
“We have an illegal immigration crisis and we have to do everything humanly possible to secure the border. That means fences, that means walls.”
This type of rhetoric attracted Trump to Cruz. In January 2014, according to the campaign records, Trump donated $5,000 to the senator’s political action committee. Because it was a PAC and not a Super PAC, the limit was just $5,000.
In a November unveiling, Cruz detailed his immigration plan which included building a wall. The suggestion is to have more border agents, surveillance and biometric entry-exit tracking as a part of the wall, a much more detailed and technical approach to the proposal compared to Trump’s vague proposals. “The unsecured border with Mexico invites illegal immigrants, criminals, and terrorists to tread on American soil. I will complete the wall,” the plan says in yet another nod to Trump.
Prior to Cruz’ climb in the Iowa polls, the two candidate were friendly and cooperative. Trump appeared at Cruz’ rally against the Iran Nuclear Deal last year. The two have been seen as the strongest opponents to illegal immigration in the Republican primary, with the senator seen as having more experience in government. But, as the polls have shown Cruz in the lead, the gloves have come off, especially by Trump.
Now, Trump has called Cruz “a little bit of a maniac.” He has wondered out loud if the senator’s Cuban background translates into an evangelical faith and said there would be legal problems for the senator if he were to become president because of his Canadian birth. Even on immigration Trump has said that he has a hard time believing Cruz’ record on immigration.
“I find it very difficult to believe that Sen. Cruz is not going to allow individuals to come back into the country legally,” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on CNN.
The Cruz campaign has not laid down during the fight, either. In Boone, Iowa, Cruz said he would deport all immigrants in the country illegally while hitting Trump on saying that he would let “really good people come back.”
On Monday, Trump reiterated what he has been saying since the first day of the campaign. “We will build a wall,” Trump said at his latest rally. “And it’s gonna be paid for by Mexico. Believe me. One hundred percent.”
“I know exactly how to build a wall,” he repeated. “I know the footings. I know exactly how deep they have to go. I know everything.”