- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz had a huge target on his back Sunday as he emerged as the clear front-runner in Iowa polls, with rivals Donald Trump calling him a “maniac” and Sen. Marco Rubio accusing him of being an isolationist.

Mr. Trump, who has long refrained from peppering Mr. Cruz with the stinging attacks he routinely inflicts on other rivals in the primary race, said the senator from Texas lacks the judgment and temperament required of a president.

“Look at the way he’s dealt with the Senate. He goes in there, frankly, like a little bit of a maniac. You’re never going to get things done that way,” Mr. Trump said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I don’t think he has the right judgment,” he said. “You can’t walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars, and not be able to cajole and get along with people. He’ll never get anything done, and that’s the problem with Ted Cruz.”

He was referring to Mr. Cruz calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, a liar on the Senate floor for reneging on a promise not to allow a vote to restore the Import-Export Bank.



The public rebuke of Mr. McConnell cemented Mr. Cruz’s standing as a hero of the party’s conservatives, who view the Import-Export Bank as corporate welfare and detest the majority leader as a big-government Republican.

Mr. Rubio blasted Mr. Cruz for being weak on national security, which has emerged as the top issue in the race after a husband-and-wife terrorism team attacked an office Christmas party Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people.

He said Mr. Cruz made Americans less safe by voting to end the National Security Agency’s phone-snooping program and voting for a budget that slashed defense spending.

“He talks tough on some of these issues. For example, he’s going to carpet-bomb ISIS. But the only budget he’s ever voted for in his time in the Senate is a budget that cut defense spending by more than Barack Obama proposes we cut it,” Mr. Rubio said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“My point is, each time he’s had to choose between strong national defense and some of the isolationist tendencies in American politics, he seems to side with the isolationists. This is an important issue to have a debate over. It’s not personal,” said Mr. Rubio, who is in the top tier of Republican contenders.

The attacks coincided with Mr. Cruz’s surge in polls, including a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg survey released Saturday evening that showed him opening up a 10-point lead in early-voting Iowa.

The attack by Mr. Trump also followed a report that Mr. Cruz, at a private fundraising event, questioned his judgment for proposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Mr. Cruz, who has been reluctant to speak ill of Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, denied the report.

“He said it behind my back,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Cruz burst into the lead with 31 percent of the vote among likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, followed by Mr. Trump with 21 percent, according to the poll.

The results confirm that Mr. Cruz has replaced Mr. Trump as the front-runner in the Hawkeye State. It is the third consecutive survey to give Mr. Cruz the advantage and the largest lead yet for the tea party champion who has aggressively courted conservative and evangelical voters.

In a Fox News poll released Sunday, Mr. Cruz led Mr. Trump by 2 points, 28 percent to 26 percent, in Iowa. A Monmouth University poll last week showed Mr. Cruz leading by 5 points, 24 percent to 19 percent.

In the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson placed third with 13 percent, followed by Mr. Rubio at 10 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 6 percent.

The rest of the crowded field garnered low single digits in the poll.

Mr. Trump continues to be the front-runner in national polls, but his lead is shrinking.

The billionaire businessman led nationally with 27 percent, followed by Mr. Cruz at 22 percent, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday.

Mr. Rubio placed third at 15 percent, followed by Mr. Carson at 11 percent, Mr. Bush at 7 percent and businesswoman Carly Fiorina at 5 percent.

The rest of the candidates finished in the low single digits.

In the Democratic race, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remained a heavy favorite to win the nomination with double-digit leads nationally and in Iowa.

However, several recent polls showed Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont in the lead in early-voting New Hampshire. He led Mrs. Clinton by 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent, in a CNN/WMUR poll last week in the Granite State.

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