One of the cardinal rules of Ted Cruz’s campaign is that the candidate cannot insult Donald Trump, since he believes the key to securing the GOP nomination is snatching up Trump voters when the front-runner makes his presumably dramatic exit from the race. Even when Trump distracted everyone from Cruz’s surge to first place in Iowa last week by proposing a blatantly unconstitutional Muslim ban, Cruz would only say “that is not my policy.”
So, how did Cruz find himself in a days-long Twitter dispute with Trump? It started on Friday morning, when the New York Times shared remarks Cruz made at a private fundraiser. While Cruz said that he likes and respects Trump and Ben Carson, and is “thrilled” that the former is in the race, he also said he doesn’t believe they have the right temperament to be president. “You look at Paris, you look at San Bernardino, it’s given a seriousness to this race, that people are looking for: Who is prepared to be a commander in chief? Who understands the threats we face?” Cruz said. “Who am I comfortable having their finger on the button? Now that’s a question of strength, but it’s also a question of judgment. And I think that is a question that is a challenging question for both of them.”
It’s a far cry from reading your rival’s private cell-phone number on live TV, and Cruz’s camp tried to smooth things over by saying that of course the election is about deciding who has the right judgment to be commander in chief. But Trump was still irritated by this very mild show of disrespect:
Cruz — who noted at the private fundraiser that his strategy toward Carson and Trump is to “bear hug both of them, and smother them with love” — responded by acting like the media was single-handledly threatening the Trump-Cruz lovefest:
That might have been the end of it, but on Saturday night the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics released a poll that shows Cruz with a huge lead in Iowa; the senator took 31 percent of Republicans polled, and Trump had 21 percent. Minutes before the poll went out, Trump promoted a different Iowa poll that still has him in the lead. He claimed (using incorrect syntax) that the Des Moines Register is out to get him for some reason:
Then on Sunday morning, Trump made his big move: It’s actually Cruz, not the former reality-show character, who doesn’t have the “right temperament” to be commander in chief.
“I don’t think he’s qualified to be president,” Trump told Fox News’s Chris Wallace. “Look at the way he’s dealt with the Senate, where he goes in there like a — you know, frankly like a little bit of a maniac. You’re never going to get things done that way.”
Apparently Trump was still ruminating about Cruz a few hours later, because he tweeted another complaint about the senator’s remarks two days earlier:
But Ted Cruz is a man who’s fought his way into second place in the GOP primary, despite the fact that pretty much all of his fellow Republicans hate him. If there’s one thing he’s learned from getting called a “wacko bird” by his colleagues and infuriating federal workers by instigating pointless government shutdowns, it’s how to turn the other cheek:
Some of Cruz’s Twitter followers said the reference doesn’t really make any sense, but by resisting Trump’s persistent efforts to make him go negative hasn’t Cruz “danced into the danger zone, when the dancer becomes the dance”? Think about it.