Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz on Wednesday night dismissed rival Donald Trump’s complaints about the nominating process as he accused Trump’s campaign of encouraging threats and violence against Cruz supporters.
Appearing at a CNN-televised town hall in Manhattan, Cruz, the Texas senator, said Trump was lashing out because he had lost several of the most-recent states that have held GOP primaries or caucuses.
Trump has said in recent days that the party’s nominating process, providing he doesn’t win a majority of delegates before the July convention, would be “rigged” against him — and subverting the will of the people — if it allowed his delegates to support other candidates on a second ballot.
“He’s throwing such a fit because odds are looking like he can’t get a majority,” Cruz said.
Referring to a former Trump adviser’s comments that delegates who don’t support Trump at the convention should have their hotel rooms publicized, Cruz said, “we shouldn’t be intimidating delegates. This shouldn’t be controversial.”
He laughed while noting that it was Trump’s campaign that had accused the Cruz campaign of “Gestapo tactics” in attempts to secure delegates’ support.
“Violence doesn’t belong in democracy and the Trump campaign encourages it over and over again,” Cruz said, noting Trump’s previous comments at a rally that he wanted to punch a protester and would consider paying the legal bills of supporters charged with assault.
Cruz, who trails Trump by about 200 delegates, is the heavy underdog in Tuesday’s primary in New York — Trump’s home state. Most statewide polls have had Trump leading by more than 30 percentage points.
During a question-and-answer period, where Cruz was joined on stage by his wife, Heidi, a town hall attendee asked Cruz about his infamous attack on Trump for having “New York values.” Cruz replied that his comments were actually a repurposing of comments Trump had made years ago in explaining his prior support for abortion.
Cruz then pivoted to favorite recent target, Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Cruz, who has released a campaign ad knocking the mayor’s immigration and policing policies, recalled NYPD officers turning their backs on the mayor during a funeral for an officer slain in 2014, following comments from de Blasio they deemed to be supportive of police protesters.
“When they turned their backs, cops across this country and Americans across this country cheered,” Cruz said.
A de Blasio spokeswoman has said that Cruz “doesn’t deal in facts, only insults.”