If Ted Cruz ducked a frontal attack on Donald Trump for most of the past year, he’s certainly not shying away from that fight now. Despite tracking around 30 points below Trump in New York, Cruz went after Trump in his power base of New York City, and attacked his presumed strength — his business acumen. In an interview this morning with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos,
Cruz seems ready to take his attack on Trump’s values to an attack on the real estate mogul’s business record.
“Republicans, we want to win,” Cruz said. “We want to beat Hillary. The last thing we want is to nominate someone like Donald Trump, who, over and over again, has allegations of fraud against him, has litigation. Last thing we want is to nominate someone who’s going to be on the witness stand in October and November as much as Hillary Clinton.”
Cruz referenced Trump University, a shuttered business venture for Trump that has been the source of a class-action lawsuit.
“The Trump University litigation that he defrauded thousands of people with a fake university, took their money, scammed them, that’s scheduled to go to trial this summer,” Cruz said.
Cruz says he’s ready to hit Trump on economic policy, too, and pointed to the venue for his rally this morning:
Cruz thinks that his economic message can overcome those questioning his immigration record in places like the Bronx where there are large Hispanic communities.
“Number one, we’re in a small business. We’re in a restaurant,” he said of Wednesday’s venue. “And my focus is very much on small businesses because economic opportunity, jobs, come from small businesses.
In short, Cruz wants to pick up the Main Street vs Wall Street banner, and apply the latter firmly to Trump. “The people I’m fighting for,” Cruz tells Stephanopoulos, “are the people who are working in this restaurant.” Zeke Miller of Time Magazine also reports that Cruz has begun to emphasize his economic populism as a contrast to Trump:
Back to your comments before about the economics, the state of America, the divide between Washington and the people, do you consider yourself an economic populist?
Absolutely. What I’ve tried to do every day in the Senate, and what I intend to do as President is fight for the working men and women of this country. And not for the special interests in Washington.
Often on the campaign trail I’ll observe that I agree with Bernie Sanders. Now that’s an unusual thing for a Republican candidate for President to say. But I say, I agree with Bernie Sanders that Washington is corrupt.
That both parties, career politicians in both parties get in bed with the lobbyist and special interest. And the fix is in. Where Washington’s policies benefit big business, benefit the rich and the powerful at the expense of the working men and women.
Now the point that I often make, and just a couple of days ago in Wisconsin I was visiting with a young woman who said she was a Bernie Sanders supporter. And I mentioned to her that I agreed with Bernie on the problem.
But I said if you think the problem is Washington is corrupt, why would you want Washington to have more power? I think the answer to that problem is for Washington to have less power, for government to have less power over our lives.
Interestingly, Cruz never mentions cronyism, not even outside of a connection to Donald Trump. Don’t expect that to last long, although Cruz may be smart enough to save that attack for his tour of upstate districts rather than in the Big Apple. The economic-populist argument for Cruz eventually has to come down to this: Do you trust the populism of a one-term Texan of modest origins who has fought the power establishment ever since arriving in Washington, or the crony capitalist who has bragged that he bought politicians for most of his career?