Cruz Slams Trump for "Trumpertantrum"
Donald Trump's moment of humility after placing second to Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses turned out to be shorter than one of his infamous tweets. By Wednesday, Trump was back to his old ways, calling his chief rival "a fraud" and accusing him of "stealing" a win on Monday.
The accusation stems from a get-out-the-vote email a Cruz staffer sent to supporters the night of the caucuses, falsely reporting that Ben Carson would be dropping out of the race and that his backers should choose the Texas senator instead. Cruz apologized to Carson and launched a tirade against Trump.
Emboldened by his hard-fought Hawkeye State victory, Cruz described his chief opponent as a sore loser who was having "a Trumpertantrum."
"His reaction to everything is to throw a fit," Cruz told reporters while campaigning in New Hampshire on Wednesday. "He lost, and he doesn't like that. He breaks down."
The senator said he wakes up every morning and "laughs" at Trump's tweets "because he's losing it!" He said his daughters, ages 7 and 5, "are better behaved than a presidential candidate who responds by insulting everyone every day when he loses."
Cruz said the country needs "a commander in chief, not a “Twitter-er in chief" and questioned Trump's judgment and temperament. "I don't know of anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button," Cruz said, referring to the nuclear launch codes. "We're libel to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark."
On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted: "Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!" He continued: "Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified." And later in the day, another: "The State of Iowa should disqualify Ted Cruz from the most recent election on the basis that he cheated -- a total fraud!"
On caucus night, the Cruz campaign incorrectly told supporters that Carson planned to drop out after a report that the retired neurosurgeon planned to go home on Monday before the results came in so that he could rest and do laundry. Iowa Rep. Steve King, a Cruz surrogate, tweeted that "Carson looks like he is out." Cruz said later that his team should have followed up with supporters to tell them that Carson was not, in fact, dropping out. "I was disappointed," he said, "that an impression was left that was incomplete." Carson said Cruz called him to apologize, and insisted he did not know about and did not agree with the actions by his campaign aide.
Carson convened a news conference in Washington on Wednesday, but did not mention Cruz by name. "It’s clear that there were people who tried to take advantage of a situation, tried to distort information," Carson said when pressed by reporters.
Carson finished fourth in Iowa on Monday with 9 percent of the support, slightly above his average heading into the night. He suggested Cruz campaign aides involved in spreading the false information should be fired. "When I discovered that there were things in my campaign that I couldn’t agree with … I made changes," he said. "And I think that’s what a good leader does."
Trump and Cruz are campaigning in New Hampshire this week ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Trump is leading the polls there by double digits, and likely needs to win the state to advance. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie are all looking to place in the top tier in order to continue. Cruz is in a distant second place, but could turn a surprise showing there with momentum from Monday's win.
The candidates are scheduled to debate in New Hampshire on Saturday. Cruz questioned whether Trump would show up or boycott, as he did in Iowa. "Donald is a fragile soul," he said. "He can't debate the substance. He doesn't want to talk about the issues."
Rebecca Berg contributed to this report.