Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were once two peas in a pod, the rare buddy comedy (a dark comedy, perhaps) forged in the vicious world of presidential politics. “He’s running and I’m running and we both agreed that we started out as friends and we’ll end as friends,” Cruz quipped over the summer. But now that the two are neck and neck just before the Iowa caucuses, any form of harmony has been wiped away.
During a packed-to-the-rafters rally at a gym in Marshalltown, Iowa, Trump mocked Cruz as a friendless loser who would be the antagonist of Iowans if he’s elected president. “Ted is a nasty guy, people don’t like him,” Trump said at one point. Noting that the senator from Texas has failed to win over his colleagues, Trump added, “He doesn’t get along with anyone. Nobody likes him. He’s not been endorsed by one United States senator.”
One of the main reasons that Iowans should resist voting for Cruz, Trump said, was the senator’s opposition to renewable fuel standards. “I’m totally pro-ethanol, which Ted Cruz is not. He is anti, totally,” Trump said. And in case his word wasn’t enough, Trump boasted of the rebuke of Cruz by Iowa’s Republican Governor, Terry Brandstad. “You heard him say, you cannot vote for Ted Cruz, you cannot do it,” Trump said.
How bad has this once-chummy relationship gotten? During the middle of Trump’s rally, his campaign manager told reporters that Trump would be skipping the next Republican debate later this week. Cruz was left emptily offering a public challenge for a one-on-one debate since Trump bypassed the larger stage.