Donald Trump has questioned the religiosity of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, his closest competitor in the Iowa caucus. His reason for doubting Cruz’s evangelical credentials? Because he is Cuban (video below).
While the business mogul remains dominant across nationwide polls, he is facing a stiff challenge from Cruz in Iowa. The Texas senator has received crucial endorsements in the state, most recently “Caffeinated Thoughts” editor and blogger Shane Vander Hart.
“As we’re getting close to the caucus, Cruz has probably the best ground game going,” the conservative pundit told NBC News on Dec. 29. “And I’m concerned about Donald Trump — I think [Cruz] is the one that can derail his campaign.”
Cruz has steadfastly refused to attack or even criticize Trump, but the business mogul has begun taking jabs at his chummy competitor as the race between them in Iowa intensifies. Now he is going after the sincerity of Cruz’s religious convictions.
“You gotta remember, all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, OK?” Trump told a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Dec. 29, according to Business Insider.
“Just remember that, OK?” Just remember… when you’re casting your ballot, remember.”
The campaign event is not the first time that Trump has brought up Cruz’s Cuban heritage as a negative. Earlier in December, he openly doubted whether or not Cruz was a real evangelical.
“We’re doing really well with the evangelicals,” Trump said at the time. “And by the way, and again, I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all fairness. It’s true. Not a lot come out. But I like them nevertheless.”
To help solidify his lead in early caucus states like Iowa and put Cruz’s growing traction in the rearview mirror, the Trump campaign is planning an expensive ad blitz, a barrage of media that will likely cost $2 million a week, according to Fox News.
The ads are expected to play up Trump’s positive qualities, but the campaign is reportedly prepared to shift into attack ads on his competitors if necessary.
“If you attack Trump, he will attack you 10 times as hard,” an anonymous Trump adviser told Fox News. “We will not allow any attack to go unanswered.”
Cruz, whose style has been to make nice with Trump throughout the primary season, may be slowly discovering that you don’t need to attack the business mogul for him to come back 10 times as hard -- you just have to gain on him in the polls.