Billionaire Donald Trump sharply criticized 2016 rival Ted Cruz Wednesday, telling CNN that the Texas senator was favored amnesty and copied aspects of his immigration plan from him.
Asked by “Situation Room” host Wolf Blitzer about who is tougher on immigration, Trump replied with a six-word allegation.
“Ted was in favor of amnesty,” the billionaire said.
Trump added, “Him and Marco Rubio have been fighting about who is weaker.”
The real estate mogul, who has taken a hardline position on immigration, then suggested Cruz had stolen the crown jewel of his immigration plan.
“I was watching Ted the other day and it was very interesting. He said, ‘And we must build a wall.’ OK? And my wife said, ‘Darling, he just said build a wall.’ That’s the first person that said build a wall! I’ve been saying it for five years!”
Trump continued, “He said, ‘And we will build a wall.’ So now he has taken my idea for a wall. I’m glad he has taken it, I think it’s the right thing to do. The problem is I’ll build a wall, it will be a right wall. These people, the politicians, don’t know how to build walls. They don’t know how to build anything. … But all of a sudden they are trying to come over to my territory.”
Trump said that unlike Cruz, he would allow people who are deported to “come back legally.”
“I think you should let them come back. If they are very good people, you let them come back legally. I want people to come back. … I want immigrants to come in, but they have to come in legally,” he said.
Cruz’s national campaign spokesman Rick Tyler told Politico that Cruz had been involved on immigration matters and working to resolve them for some time.
“He’s been working on these things a long time and long before Donald Trump announced his candidacy,” Tyler said. “We are glad that Donald Trump announced his candidacy, and we are glad that Donald Trump brought a lot of attention to these issues, but it is not true to suggest that he’s not been thinking about these issues and working on them for a long time.”
Trump’s attacks on Cruz come as the Iowa caucuses approach on Feb. 1. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Cruz has a slight lead over Trump in the Hawkeye State.
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