Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Republican front-runner Donald Trump sparred about many things during Thursday night’s sixth GOP debate, and one of the most spirited clashes came when Cruz reiterated his criticism of Trump for having “New York values.” The discussion came after Trump again questioned the senator's eligibility to be president, and Cruz responded by accusing Trump of not being a true conservative.
“There are many, many wonderful working men and women in New York,” Cruz said. “But everyone understands that the value of New York City are socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media.”
He added that in old interviews Trump had expressed more liberal views than he has shared in this campaign, and claimed that Trump, at the time, blamed his opinions on being from New York. “Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan,” Cruz said.
“That was a very insulting statement that Ted made,” Trump told the audience.
Despite Cruz's criticism of the New York lifestyle, his wife Heidi works for Goldman Sachs, the big bank based in New York City. And of course, Cruz has seen scrutiny this week after the New York Times revealed that he financed his first Senate campaign with the help of a significant loan from his wife's employer — not exactly the actions of someone opposed to New York or money.
With the first nominating contests in Iowa now less than three weeks away, the Republican presidential candidates have been ramping up their attacks against one another. Thursday night marked the first GOP debate of the new year, and another chance for candidates who have been lashing out through attack ads and stump speeches to face one another in person.
Cruz and Trump — who are locked in a tight race in Iowa polls — have frequently tangled in recent days. After raising questions about whether the Canadian-born Cruz counts as a “natural-born citizen” and is eligible to be president, Trump has continued to hit Cruz on the issue.
While Cruz has continued to see enthusiasm in early primary states, he faced questions this week after a New York Times article revealed he financed his first Senate campaign with a loan from Goldman Sachs that he never disclosed. The financing help could be a problem for Cruz, as he has built his campaign on a populist, anti-establishment energy that typically condemns the influence of big banks such as Goldman.
Before Thursday’s debate, Cruz stood in second place nationally with 19 percent to Trump’s 35 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. In South Carolina, where the debate took place, Cruz also stood in second place behind Trump.