Ted Cruz finally gets dirty at closed door fundraiser: Cruz quietly questions Donald Trump's "judgment" to lead

Publicly, the Texas Senator has tried to stay in The Donald's good graces but it looks like the gloves may come off

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published December 10, 2015 3:37PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Keith Bedford/Reuters)
(Reuters/Keith Bedford/Reuters)

“It is my hope that the voters who are currently supporting Donald Trump and every other one of the Republican candidates in time will come to support us,” Ted Cruz told conservatives gathered for a conference organized by Erick Erickson’s Red State in August, making it no secret that he planned to play the long game for Trump's leftovers should the dominant frontrunner eventually falter.

Given Cruz's statement last summer, all of his subsequent actions, like cozying up to The Donald - a rival, after all -- and holding out as one of the last Republican presidential candidates who refused to forcefully condemn Trump's openly bigoted ban on Muslim travel to the U.S., make perfect sense. Cruz is a weaselly politician, cravenly plotting his rise at his party's -- and the nation's -- expense. But now that it looks like his turn in the spotlight is nearing (a poll out this week found the Texas senator leading in Iowa for the first time), Cruz appears to be bucking up to directly challenge his old buddy -- at least behind closed doors.

At a private New York fundraiser on Wednesday, Cruz questioned Trump's “judgment” to be president, according to two attendees who spoke to the New York Times. At the fundraiser, which Cruz skipped out on a Senate hearing on ISIL to attend -- the only committee Republican to do so, Cruz brought up the recent attacks in San Bernardino and Paris to cast doubt upon the leadership abilities of Trump and popular Iowa candidate Ben Carson:

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?


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.

Last month, Trump warned of his buddy, "if he catches on, then I guess we'll have to go to war." Looks like Cruz is just taking the preemptive strike.

But of course, in true Cruz weasel fashion, the senator didn't have the temerity to go after his old pal when given an opportunity on national television to do so just hours before. On Fox New Wednesday morning, when Cruz was asked about his relationship with the GOP presidential frontrunner by host Bill Hemmer he said he remained "grateful Donald Trump is running.”

“I don’t anticipate that changing at all," Cruz assured Hemmer with a smile.

Trump Leads In The Polls, But Cruz Looks More Like The Favorite

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Republican Primary Aol_on Donald Trump Gop Civil War Ted Cruz