As the last week before the Iowa caucuses approaches, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz will not allow his detractors to put a damper on his campaign. And there are many of them.
As the race has tightened between Cruz and Donald Trump, the Republican establishment has increasingly turned away from Cruz and toward the New York billionaire, with many prominent members of the party saying they do not like the senator from Texas.
However, when asked about the latest of these attacks in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that aired Sunday, Cruz seemed nonchalant. The most recent attack came from former Sen. Bob Dole, who was the GOP’s presidential nominee in 1996 and a vice presidential nominee in 1976. Dole told the New York Times last week that the Republican Party would suffer “cataclysmic” and “wholesale losses” if Cruz were the nominee.
In the ABC News interview, Stephanopoulos asked Cruz what he thought about Dole saying that no one likes him. “You know what, he omitted two words from what he meant to say, which is no one in Washington likes Cruz,” the candidate responded.
“Listen, I've said many, many times the biggest divide we've got in this country politically, it's not between Democrats and Republicans, it's between career politicians in Washington in both parties and the American people,” Cruz added in response to being asked if the criticism bothered him.
Stephanopoulos pointed out that Republicans have started thinking of Trump as a more electable nominee than Cruz, but Cruz said he disagreed with that assessment.
“It's not a question of electability. Listen to what they're saying. You're right that what we're saying is the Washington establishment is abandoning Marco Rubio. I think they've determined that they don't think he can win. And they're rushing to Donald Trump. And they've explained why,” Cruz said.
“Bob Dole, yesterday, explained why. He said Donald Trump is someone we can make a deal with. We can cut a deal. We can work with him,” the senator continued. “And listen, if you're someone in this country who thinks we need more Republicans in Washington to cut a deal with the Democrats, to agree with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, then you ought to vote for Donald Trump.”
— Dave Price (@idaveprice) January 19, 2016
Dole joins a long line of Republicans who have expressed doubt or outright hostility toward Cruz over the past few months. The list includes former president George W. Bush, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and former presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain.
Cruz has acknowledged his lack of people skills before. During a Republican debate in October, the GOP candidates were asked to name their biggest weakness, and Cruz said he was probably not the most personable candidate.
“If you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy,” Cruz said during the debate. “But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get the job done and I will get you home.”
Throughout all of this, Trump has appeared to enjoy letting the Republican establishment pile on Cruz, and he has not avoided joining in on the fun. The past two Sundays, Trump has called Cruz a “nasty guy” in an interview with ABC News and this week on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I mean, the biggest problem he has, he's a nasty guy and nobody likes him. Not one Republican senator, he works with them every day, not one Republican senator has endorsed Ted Cruz,” Trump said Sunday on NBC. “I mean, when you think of it, that's actually a shocking thing to believe.”