The Ted Cruz-Donald Trump Cold War has reached its tensest point yet.
The two GOP presidential candidates have been friendly throughout the campaign, with both refraining from attacking the other.
But at a closed-door event Wednesday night in New York, Texas Sen. Cruz reportedly questioned whether the business mogul who's been leading in polls has the judgment to have his "finger on the button." The New York Times reported Cruz's comments, and posted audio from the event.
Now, the candidates have taken to Twitter, with Trump sending a set of tweets this morning more or less telling Cruz to say it to his face:
Looks like @tedcruz is getting ready to attack. I am leading by so much he must. I hope so, he will fall like all others. Will be easy!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1449838186.0
.@tedcruz should not make statements behind closed doors to his bosses, he should bring them out into the open - more fun that way!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1449838414.0
In response, Cruz this afternoon sought to de-escalate the tensions, arguing on Twitter that the Republican establishment's "only hope" is for the two candidates to start battling it out — and calling Trump "terrific."
The Establishment's only hope: Trump & me in a cage match. Sorry to disappoint -- @realDonaldTrump is terrific. #DealWithIt— Ted Cruz (@Ted Cruz) 1449853417.0
Trump hasn't hesitated to take shots at his opponents throughout the campaign, and the consistent front-runner seems to do it more for fun than to make political gains. So far, though, he's avoided attacking Cruz, who's lined up with him on issues such as immigration and concern over admittance of Syrian refugees to the U.S. due to concerns about possible terror attacks on the homeland. But Trump's call Monday to ban all Muslims from entry to the U.S. put daylight between the two candidates, and Cruz told reporters Tuesday that he disagrees with Trump's proposal. At that news conference, Cruz took a pass at every opportunity to attack Trump.
And that was that — until the Wednesday event and the New York Times story, which Cruz's campaign has called "misleading."
But now that Cruz has been gaining in the polls — even leapfrogging to the front of the pack in Iowa, according to one Monmouth University poll this week — the peace may have been broken irreparably.
And going into next Tuesday night's Republican debate in Las Vegas, which is expected to center on foreign policy and terror concerns, the timing couldn't be more interesting.
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