The odds wouldn’t have favored candidate Ted Cruz anyway within the Empire State. So the Texas senator stepped up his attack on rival Donald Trump in last night’s sixth GOP debate by outlining “New York values” that he says would be bad for the nation, as supposedly embodied by the flamboyant real estate mogul heading into the Iowa presidential caucuses next month.
“I think most people know exactly what New York values are,” Cruz said. “Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal . . . focus around money and the media.” Cruz cited a political tilt toward abortion rights and gay rights, and even suggested — rather oddly — to moderator Maria Bartiromo that because she’s from the city, she doesn’t know what those values are.
Cruz did so, of course, inside the safe space of an auditorium with a largely South Carolina GOP audience. During the debate, Trump got a big dose of booing from allies of other candidates.
Trump, a billionaire scion who grew up in the upscale Jamaica Estates in Queens, responded by talking about how New Yorkers worked to recover in the immediate wake of the 911 attacks — and called Cruz’s stance insulting.
Cruz and Trump, who are top rivals in the most recent Republican primary polls, managed to overshadow rivals, at least in highlight reels to come.
When offered, Trump grabbed at his chance to hammer away at what he called a “serious question” whether the Canadian-born Cruz could be ruled unqualified for the presidency. He challenged Cruz to seek a declaratory judgment in court as to how the Constitution should be interpreted in his case, purportedly so the Democrats couldn’t force him off a future ballot with a lawsuit.
“There’s nothing to this birther issue,” Cruz said, clearly looking to frame Trump’s claim as a fringe theory. He cited previous statements by Trump suggesting he wouldn’t challenge Cruz’s eligibility. Although the Constitution hasn’t changed, Cruz said, the polls have, in his own favor.
The two even bantered and jabbed about what might happen if one chose the other as a running mate for vice president. In the wake of a poll surge for Cruz, he and Sen. Marco Rubio traded angry charges on a raft of issues as before. So did Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the seven-way debate.
Of course, the default position by all the candidates was to rail against lame-duck president Barack Obama, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, “political correctness” and current immigration, foreign, fiscal and gun policy. Beyond that, some panelists’ questions did draw some degree of answers.
Asked about actions that could “embolden” enemies of the United States, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said “America’s leadership in the world is required for peace and stability.”
Asked about when the U.S. should use military action, Christie said, “When it was absolutely necessary to protect American lives” and “American interests.”
Asked about Obama’s characterizations of ISIS, Sen. Marco Rubio said, “When I’m president . . . we’re going to win the war on ISIS.”
Asked — again — about his proposal to stop immigration of Muslims, Trump said, “Our country’s a mess” and that a moratorium is in order.
Asked about a disclosure form he filed that excluded a certain loan from Goldman Sachs, where his wife works, the on-point portion of Cruz’s answer was: “I made a paperwork error.”
Asked if it was fair game to attack ex-President Bill Clinton’s sexual scandals, neurosurgeon Ben Carson said in part, “We need to start once again” to judge right from wrong.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich answered a question about the rivalry between Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“If Bernie Sanders is the nominee,” he said, “we’re gonna win every state.”