Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is at it again, bombarding another minority presidential candidate with questions about his citizenship, only this time it’s Ted Cruz. Trump resurrected the attack (which he’s previously repudiated) in an interview with The Washington Post Monday night, then again in his big Morning Joe interview, and in New Hampshire Tuesday, he hit Cruz on citizenship and his absence from the first primary state:
“I just know that it’s being questioned all over in a lot of people are asking me that question. The problem is that if the Democrats bring a lawsuit, a lawsuit could take years to resolve
“…I know he’s got, I think he’s got all his onions in the old basket of Iowa, and you know, that’s fine, but he hasn’t been here very much. I don’t think he intends to be.”
Cruz initially responded to the attack with a tweet that would have been clever in 2005, responding with a clip of Arthur Fonzarelli’s legendary aquatic exploit:
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 5, 2016
Unlike Fonzie, though, Cruz didn’t quite stick the landing when he was asked about it later. Instead of hitting back at Trump, even in his “Haha, Biff!” fake-friendly way, Cruz lamely tried to blame the media for forcing Cruz’s face into Trump’s fist:
“Listen, with all respect, our good friends here in the media are playing into the Democrat’s play book. How about we talk about the real challenges facing this country?”
“I tweeted out a response to Donald Trump’s raising questions about my natural-born citizenship. It was a link to Fonzie jumping the shark and I think I’m going to let my response stick with that tweet. One of the things that media loves to do is gaze at their navels for hours on end by a tweet from Donald Trump or me or anyone else, let’s focus on the issues that matter.”
This sort of “high road” response isn’t that unusual, but usually, you’re taking the high road against the person who attacked you, not some random third party. “The media” has nothing to do with this, it is Donald Trump who’s attacking Cruz, and people can see that. By tying himself in knots to avoid making a strong response to Trump, Cruz is only underscoring the degree to which he’s scared out of his pants by him. Part of the reason Trump is succeeding is that lots of people do, in fact, like bullies, and even those that don’t would prefer a bully over a total wuss.
But there is another downside to Cruz’s weak responses, and that is the fact that he isn’t countering the message in Trump’s attacks, which is pretty clear. Ted Cruz wasn’t even born here, and is a Hispanic to boot, so how can you trust that guy? It’s disgusting, but it works on huge swaths of the Republican electorate, and Cruz’s frenemies routine does nothing to dispel it. The only thing that stopped Trump and his Birther Express the first time around was Barack Obama simply crushing him over it, not sending out a “lol” into the world.
cross-posted from Mediaite