Trump went after Ted Cruz at a town hall event in Iowa Friday evening, accusing the Texas senator of being beholden to big oil companies because he opposes ethanol subsidies, which are deeply popular in this agricultural state.

“He’s a nice guy. I mean, everything I say he agrees with me, no matter what I say,” Trump began. “But with the ethanol, really, he’s got to come a long way.”

He added: “If Ted Cruz is against ethanol, how does he win in Iowa? Because that’s very anti-Iowa.”

Trump also appeared to take a veiled shot at Cruz’s family background, suggesting Cruz might have trouble appealing to the state’s evangelical voters. “I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba,” he said of the country where Cruz’s father, an evangelical preacher, was born.

Though Cruz and Trump have not attacked each other, it’s obvious that they have criticisms in the drawer and prepared for use. This summer, Trump raised questions about Cruz’s Canadian birth and whether he was constitutionally eligible to be president. I asked him about this last week. Would he bring that up again? “I’ll only bring it up if he’s a final two,” said Trump

Were Cruz an ideologue compelled to speak out against wrongs of the kind he has identified in the Senate, he would have spoken out already quite a lot about Trump. But Cruz knows the difference between a losing fight where he gains greater glory among the voters he wants, like the Affordable Care Act shutdown fight, and a fight that might threaten his relationship with those very voters.

During the Affordable Care Act debate, when Cruz’s opponents called for tactical restraint, he framed their position as an ideological weakness. He faces no real risk of one of his opponents making a similar argument against him now. Because making the equivalent argument about Trump that Cruz made about the ACA would mean arguing that tolerating Trump is a betrayal of deeply held conservative beliefs. No candidate is remotely ready to go that far yet.

Cruz is demonstrating a skill a president must have: avoiding a confrontation for a larger goal.

Unlike many of the Republican Party’s leaders and presidential candidates, Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) is willing to both bash Donald Trump and rule out supporting him if he becomes the party’s nominee.

“My first oath is to the Constitution of the United States. Donald Trump has taken positions contrary to that document, so I could not support him and uphold my oath,” Ribble told “So That Happened,” the HuffPost Politics podcast…

Maybe it’s easier for Ribble because he’s had a running start. In September, he called Trump “a 3-year-old.” The idea for a Muslim travel ban is Trump’s worst tantrum yet.

“Words like that violate the moral conscience of a nation,” Ribble said. “The idea that we would create a religious litmus test in this country is astoundingly offensive to me.”

Joe Lhota, the 2013 GOP mayoral candidate, is calling on the Manhattan Republican Party to kick him out, relying on an obscure election law that allows a local chair to cast out a voter “not in sympathy with the principles of such party.” Republican consultant E. O’Brien Murray is considering filing a complaint with the party.

The local party chairwoman, Adele Malpass, said Thursday that she disapproves of Mr. Trump’s anti-Muslim proposal but isn’t in favor of banishing him from the GOP…

In an interview, Mr. Trump predicted victory despite his distance from the party infrastructure in his home state. “I’ve never had that much of a relationship one way or the other…but they haven’t been very effective in New York,” he said. “I will do very well. April is a long time away.”

Asked about the proposal to eject him from the party, Mr. Trump said, “Goodbye” and hung up the phone. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, followed up, saying: “The notion of kicking the presidential front-runner out of the party is so absurd to me, I can’t even comprehend it.”

Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint told CNN that Donald Trump’s plan to keep Muslims out of the U.S. is not the right way to lower the risk of terrorism from the Islamic State.

“Americans don’t ban an entire religion because the lack of leadership of one president,” DeMint told “@This Hour” Wednesday. “It really does come down to a lack of leadership. People are fearful and frustrated. The president has been unwilling to identify the problem and to present a plan.”

However, when pressed once by co-host Kate Bolduan on Trump specifically, DeMint said the the proposal is “certainly not” the right course of action before setting his sights on Obama.

“Certainly not. It’s not, and that’s not who we are as Americans,” DeMint said. “But I understand people’s frustration when they’re not getting a solution and some plan that they can feel some comfort in.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said his presidential opponent Donald Trump is leading in the polls because nearly half of Republican primary voters hate Obama and think he is a Kenyan-born Muslim.

“Well there’s about 40% of the Republican primary voter who believes that Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim,” Graham said on Boston Herald Radio on Friday. “There’s just a dislike for President Obama that is visceral. It’s almost irrational.”

GOP leaders seem to be doing the only thing they can—watch the process play out and hope for good outcomes. Sooner or later, they hope, the field will winnow and it will be Mr. Trump with his 35% versus one, two or three non-Trumps who’ll fight over the 65%. Party leaders’ position is delicate. They are certain they cannot win the presidency with Mr. Trump as the candidate. And they know they can’t win the presidency if embittered Trump supporters stay home or bolt. They can’t win with him and can’t win without his people.

Meanwhile Mr. Trump’s supporters, like Mr. Trump himself, appear to care nothing for the GOP. They believe America is in danger and this is no time for party loyalty. In any case they haven’t felt that loyalty for years because the party has disappointed them for years. Mr. Trump is both the expression and a deepening cause of the party’s fissuring.

The biggest reason has been the distance—the chasm—between the party elite at the top, who are more or less for illegal immigration, and the bulk of the party on the ground, who are opposed. In this case there is a chasm between elites concerned that they personally will look bigoted if they take action and voters concerned about who comes into America in the age of ISIS. It is a split, a distance; it is primarily the fault of the top, not the bottom; and Mr. Trump, who through his popularity could choose to be a bridge across the distance is instead functioning as a deepener of it.

Many a beach house has been bought by Republican consultants who have never had a major candidate win. The consultants get commissions for their mail, their advertising, their marked up phone surveys, etc. With the threat of Donald Trump rising, these consultants are risking their reputations, careers, and livelihoods as the men and women who could not stop Donald Trump. Picking apart the carcass of the Bush campaign to make their beach house payment will not go over well if they do not stop Trump.

Second, Republican donors are finally being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils that they always try to force on conservatives or be exposed as rank opportunists. In both 2008 and 2012, the base of Republican voters were told they must kneel before McCain or Romney and suck it up. Both times, the donor class candidate lost. Now the donor class candidates are losing to Trump and the alternative to Trump, Ted Cruz, is a man the donors loath. So either they will force themselves to unite with someone they do not care for or expose themselves as the ones who really do take their football home when they do not get their way.

Third, Republican politicians are finally being held accountable. Trump would not exist as a candidate but for feckless Republican leadership in the face of an aggressive agenda from President Obama…

Republicans will owe Donald Trump thanks. He has finally forced the GOP to come to terms with its identity and its accumulated, unseparated chaff.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake shocked MSNBC’s Chuck Todd Thursday evening with his candid response that Republican lawmakers won’t publicly admit they oppose Donald Trump as the GOP presidential nominee because they fear the front-runner would launch a third-party run.

“Those who don’t want a Republican in the White House want Republicans to say this because the most likely scenario if there’s not a Republican in the White House will be because Donald Trump runs as a third-party candidate and if Republicans say now we will not support the ultimate nominee, that gives Donald Trump license to run as a third-party candidate,” Flake said on “Meet the Press Daily.”

If he [runs as an independent], he’ll most likely pull enough votes away from Republicans to ensure a Democratic victory.

That prospect may have the Republican National Committee and Republican strategists biting their nails down to the quick, but as a conservative who would very much like to see a Republican win the White House again in the future, I’m increasingly thinking this is the best thing for the party, even if it means a certain victory for Democrats.

To be clear, Hillary Clinton is an equally terrifying prospect. But if Trump wins the nomination and runs as a Republican, we’ll have Democrats like Clinton in the White House for the next 50 years…

Democrats are convincingly using Trump to paint the entire Republican Party as racist, xenophobic and misogynistic. The damage Trump has already done to the Republican brand is immeasurable. A Republican nomination would be disastrous for years to come…

There’s another good reason to hope Trump runs as an independent. It would finally give our Republican candidates a chance to be heard. Whether it’s Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina or Chris Christie, the other contenders have some smart, practical and, most importantly, conservative ideas to solve the country’s biggest problems. Wouldn’t you like to hear some of them?

The speed with which prominent Republican officials and conservative spokesmen condemned Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States revealed the true stakes in the 2016 election. The future of the GOP as we know it is in question—not the party’s political future but its ideological one. Donald Trump’s candidacy is already intensifying party divisions. Nominating him would alter the character of the Republican Party in a fundamental way…

It’s possible we are at the beginning of another political recalibration based on national identity. Already center-right parties in Japan and Russia and Israel have lurched in a nationalist direction. And where nationalists do not enjoy outright control, as in Hungary and Poland, they split the center-right coalition, as in France, the U.K., and Germany…

Trump’s nationalism has far more in common with the conservatism of Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, than with the conservatism of Ronald Reagan. Support for a “Muslim ban” is par for the course among European nationalists—by calling for it here all Trump has done is confirm how closely American politics resembles European politics. Reagan was an immigration advocate who signed the 1986 amnesty law.

Indeed, Republican nominees since Ronald Reagan have been internationalist in outlook. They have been pro-free trade and pro-immigration, have supported American leadership in global institutions, and have argued for market solutions and traditional values. A Republican Party under Donald Trump would broadly reject this attitude. It would emphasize protection in all its forms—immigration restriction, trade duties, a fortress America approach to international relations, and activist government to address health care and veterans’ care. Paeans to freedom and opportunity and equality and small government would give way to admonishments to strive, to fight, to win, to profit.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is sending a warning to GOP leaders about his dominance in the polls: “You’ve got to get used to it.”

During an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, the billionaire said Republicans are “kidding themselves” if they think he won’t secure the GOP nomination.

“I say, folks, you know, I’m sorry I did this to you, but you’ve got to get used to it,” Trump said. “It’s one of those little problems in life.”

“I’m going to win. … You know, I’m not one of these other guys that goes down. I don’t go down. I go up.”