Words are flying between politicians as Iowa’s caucus approaches. Just hours after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz reinforced his attacks against Donald Trump, Iowa’s governor said the senator should be defeated at all costs for his stance against ethanol.
Cruz accused his fiercest rival of not being a real conservative, adding that his lead has “rattled” Trump’s campaign going into the final two weeks of the Iowa leg in the primary.
Since the latest debate on Fox Business last week, the two candidates have intensified their attacks on each other, with Trump mentioning Cruz’ Wall Street problems and the senator lobbing back that the real estate mogul has not been a real conservative.
“Donald seems to be a little rattled,” Cruz said while meeting with reporters before a public gathering in Washington, New Hampshire. “For whatever reason, he is very, very dismayed. I guess as conservatives continue to unite behind our campaign, as his poll numbers continue to go down, he’s a little testier.”
The latest poll, by the Des Moines Register, showed the senator with a 3-point lead over Trump. That runs counter to the two previous polls where the businessman had 6- and 2-point leads. In New Hampshire, the site of the first primary shortly after Iowa’s caucus, Trump has enjoyed a much higher lead on his nearest competitor, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Trump hasn’t let Cruz get the last word in the verbal spat, though. He called the senator a “nasty guy” whom no one likes in Washington. This has been on top of his remarks over Cruz’s financial loans made by Goldman Sachs and Citibank. The former loan was not listed on election reports during the 2012 senate race, an apparent violation of election law, while the latter not related to the election.
Cruz shot back with remarks questioning the billionaire’s conservative credentials, noting that Trump donated large sums of money to Democrats over the years, including $50,000 to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2010 when the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama was running for his current job. Cruz also rejected Trump’s own comparison to former president and conservative icon Ronald Reagan, saying he was “pretty sure” Reagan never supported or made large donations to the other party.
“The American people want a steady hand at the helm,” Cruz told The Associated Press. “They don’t want…a commander in chief who wakes up obsessed with the latest polls and driven to issue a frenzy of tweets.” The latest remark was an apparent jab at Trump’s debate performance and later interview on ABC’s Sunday programming where he responded to accusations of his actions and ideas with references to polling numbers that showed him winning.
“Instead, they want a principled, steady, conservative leader who will do everything necessary to protect this nation and keep America safe,” Cruz said.
During a later town hall meeting in Whitefield, New Hampshire, Cruz pushed against Trump’s position on immigration, saying the real estate mogul was “nowhere to be found” during the immigration debate going on in Congress when the senator pushed back against a proposal by the so-called Gang of Eight that would have, in Cruz’ words, granted amnesty to illegal immigrants.
“If you didn’t stand up and fight amnesty, when the stakes were live or die, do we lose this permanently or do we win, I would suggest as voters you have reasons to doubt the credibility of the promises of a political candidate who discovers the issue after he announces for president,” Cruz said.
Meanwhile, Iowa’s governor has pushed back against Cruz’ lead, publicly saying that caucusgoers should not support the senator because of his position against renewable fuels, specifically ethanol.
“He’s heavily financed by Big Oil,” Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, said at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on Tuesday. “So we think once Iowans realize that fact, they might find other things attractive but could be very damaging to our state.”
Branstad’s opposition stems from the senator’s support in phasing out the current standards that mandate how much ethanol is mixed into gasoline. Iowa, a corn-producing state, is a large supplier of corn-based ethanol and has thrived under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“I do believe there should be a gradual phase-out because there has been investment-based expectations,” Cruz admitted. “The lobbyists are trying the best they can to snooker the people of Iowa and convince the people of Iowa that a government mandate is the only way for ethanol to survive. The problem is, the government is blocking ethanol. They are trying to convince you the mandate is the best way to go.”
Since Congress established the RFS, every Iowa caucus winner, both Democrat and Republican, has supported the mandate.