When Donald Trump has unleashed his attacks on presidential race rivals during the presidential election, he’s more often than not succeeded in getting an angry, defensive response even from those who have strived to remain cool and collected.
But his latest target, the one-time Trump ally, Sen. Ted Cruz, is a master of using popular culture to tear into people and policies without publicly breaking a sweat.
Trump managed to raise eyebrows when he, in a roundabout, thinly-veiled way, referred to Cruz as a maniac.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with host Chris Wallace, Trump described Cruz as unfit for the presidency because of his well-known habit of alienating his GOP colleagues, which, among other things, led to the infamous government shutdown in 2013 over the Affordable Care Act and, more recently, an unsuccessful threat to cause another shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding.
“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," Trump said.
"You can't walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars and not be able to cajole and get along with people," the real estate tycoon and reality TV personality told Wallace. "He'll never be able to get anything done, and that's the problem with Ted."
Cruz, who in his quirkier moments has taken to reading Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor during his 21-hour Obamacare filibuster and recording an "audition" to become a voice actor on "The Simpsons," responded to Trump’s attack with a Twitter link to the hit song, “Maniac," from the 1983 blockbuster “Flashdance,” a movie the senator is said to love.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 13, 2015
Cruz also retweeted a tweet by a fan suggesting the hashtag #cruzmaniacs.
Before the recent exchanges, Cruz and Trump had claimed the most amicable relationship among the GOP presidential rivals until Cruz crossed the billionaire’s electoral red line when he outperformed him in recent voter polls, and – to boot – criticized Trump at a private fundraiser in Manhattan.
Speaking about Trump and the other political outsider near the top of the GOP polls, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Cruz said, "I don’t believe either one of them is going to be our president.”
According to an audio recording of the event that was made available to the New York Times, Cruz went on, “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?” he asked.
He went on, “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.”
A recent poll of Iowa likely Republican caucus-goers by the Des Moines Register showed Cruz leading Trump by 10 percentage points.
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