Donald Trump

What the Stupid, Awful Spat Between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Says About the Sad State of the GOP Primary

It's all culture-war trash talk, all the time.


Gage skidmore / Foter / Flickr

Over the past two weeks, the GOP primary race has become a contest between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the two frontrunners in both national polls and in the state Iowa.

The pair will stand next to each other at tonight's GOP primary debate in South Carolina, positioned center stage as a result of their standing in the polls. The contest between them is tonight's main event.

The Trump/Cruz squabble is mind-numbingly stupid at almost every level. It is not a contest of ideas or policies, but a battle of attitude and insult, of culture-war positioning and social media put-downs. In other words, it reflects the awful current state of the GOP primary.

Trump kicked off the current round of hostilities by charging that Ted Cruz may not be eligible for the presidency, because he is not a "natural-born citizen." Cruz, who was born in Canada, responded by releasing his mother's birth certificate, making it clear that she was a U.S. citizen. There is no real question about whether Cruz is eligible—he is—but Trump's attacks have worked anyway, distracting Cruz on the campaign trail and raising some doubts about his candidacy. In a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll of Iowans, 15 percent indicated they felt "bothered" by the fact that Cruz was born in Canada. Conservative voters have become so feverishly opposed to immigration that even the hint of a foreign connection is enough to make them wary of a candidate.

But don't feel too bad for Cruz. He has stoked fears of immigration constantly on the campaign trail himself, calling for biometric tracking, a tripling of Border Patrol agents, and, naturally, building a wall along the entire southern border, which in its current "unsecured" state "invites illegal immigrants, criminals, and terrorists to tread on American soil." Indeed, Cruz has been so successful in stoking these fears that he has caused Trump to gripe that Cruz is just a rip-off candidate, stealing his anti-immigrant thunder by copy-catting his proposal to build a wall—an idea he says originated with his campaign. (Not surprisingly, Trump is mostly wrong; Cruz has publicly supported building a fence or barrier of some kind for years.)

"People are picking up all of my ideas, including Ted, who started talking about building a wall two days ago," Trump complained to Politico earlier this week. "The fact is, they won't get it built, they don't know how to do the job, and they won't get Mexico to pay for it."

To be clear: Their ideas about building a wall along the border are essentially the same. The beef is really about who is going to be the most successful in stoking and exploiting anti-immigrant sentiment for political gain.

Cruz, meanwhile, has also hit Trump for the place he calls home: New York City."Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values," Cruz said on Tuesday. Asked to explain what, exactly, that means, Cruz added, "They're not Iowa values, and they're not New Hampshire values," clarifying nothing.

The point, though, was for Cruz to do to Trump was Trump has done to Cruz with his Canada birtherism: to attempt to scare early Republican primary voters away from Trump by warning that he comes from a different place, a different culture, a different home—to say to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that Trump is not like you, not one of you, but I am. It is a pure culture-war trash-talk, a base appeal to identity and affinity above all else.

That this is the chief dispute between the top two GOP contenders going into tonight's debate is intensely revealing. Sadly, it is not only the defining argument within the party's primary race, but the defining sentiment within much of the GOP.


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  1. If Cruz is stupid enough to step into Trump’s birther trap, well, now we’ve learned something about Cruz.

    1. To the best of my knowledge, not a lot of people are smart enough to come back out of a birther trap.


      I’ve been logging on for about 6 months now and not one of you have a clue what Trump is doing, NOT ONE!

      And it’s so simple. All he’s doing is borrowing from Saul Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals and using it against his opponents.

      Just like the democrats who run a commercial with Paul Ryan pushing Granny off the cliff, or Harry Reid saying Romney didn’t pay his taxes, which after the election Reid admitted he lied. Or Alan Grayson saying republicans want sick people to die.

      So what all of you are really saying is you don’t want YOUR politicians to win using the same tactics as the democrats.

      If you don’t vote for Trump you deserve to have your country taken away by the socialists.

      You deserve to have your children and grandchildren living the life of the Russians of the1950s.


  2. Suderman has Washington DC values.

    1. Well, that adds a lot.

    1. I’m not watching future State of the Union Addresses peppered with aboots and superfluous u’s.

        1. I didn’t pull their queen’s fat out of the fire in WW2 just to have one of her subjects chucking Labatt empties out Air Fource One.

      1. I petition to add a ‘U’ to Lake Superior.

          1. Actually Suderman could use an extra ‘U’ as well.

            U’s for all!

        1. I don’t see much value in having people figuring out how to pronounce Luake Superior.

        2. It never gives up her dead.

          1. And for that, we should be thankful.

      2. Come on, SOTU address with Cruz in toque, improvising as Bob McKenzie would be awesome.

        “So yeah, then we had this like, repeal, right? And we passed it? But then Pelosi was all, step off, eh? Cause she’s soooo smart, Pelosi. Anyway, that’s all the time we have for today, eh?”

  3. I just realized that presidential elections are exactly like professional wrestling.

    1. What did you used to think they were like?

    2. “Man, I thought Ultimate Robot Fighting was real, like pro wrestling, but it turns out it’s fixed, like boxing.”

    3. You sure it isn’t more like mud wrestling, Hugh?

  4. “…Cruz…has stoked fears of immigration constantly on the campaign trail himself, calling for biometric tracking, a tripling of Border Patrol agents, and, naturally, building a wall along the entire southern border…”

    OK, the biometric tracking is creepy, that much I’ll grant.

    But what’s wrong with more Border Patrol agents, except a budget hawk or someone opposed to having immigration laws in the first place? And if we cut back some of the unnecessary agencies, there might be a bit left for immigration enforcement.

    And I get the eminent-domain abuses associated with some plans for a wall, but seriously, the real basis for objection here is that it’s designed to keep illegal immigrants out.

    So I suppose you can be for immigration enforcement and still be against a wall because ED, but in most cases, it’s simply the symbolism of a commitment to enforce the laws. And the hippie-style horror at walls, though I bet the hippies have walls on their communes and condominiums.

    1. “Walls are, like, exclusionary, man. Build bridges, not walls!”

      [checks security video for his medical-pot store]

    2. Put aside cost considerations or how open you think the borders should be.

      Go watch Penn and Teller’s BS episode on the wall and get back to me on how effective this boondoggle would be.

      1. Can you give me the Cliff’s Notes version?

      2. Meh. The boondoggle, as much as I hate wasting money, is the best tool to shut the anti-immigration crazies up. Piss a few hundred million away on a big-ass wall knowing full well it won’t do shit. Yeah, it sucks. But, it’s still better than curtailing legal immigration, national ID cards and raiding businesses to hunt for the illegals that the company may or may not know it hired.

        Sorry, but right now, fucking stupid is the upside of the national debate.

        1. Piss a few hundred million billion away on a big-ass wall


          1. That’s only if you hire union to build the wall.

            You save a bundle if you hire a bunch of Mexicans to do it.

    3. But what’s wrong with more Border Patrol agents

      They will undoubtedly spend time violating the rights of citizens and legal residents and visitors.

      And I get the eminent-domain abuses associated with some plans for a wall, but seriously, the real basis for objection here is that it’s designed to keep illegal immigrants out.

      Not really. I don’t want illegal immigrants. I want the category of illegal immigrants to be so small that the only illegal ones are people who actually pose a danger to people. People who favor more open immigration don’t like illegal immigrants. They just don’t see the immigrants themselves as the problem there. If we allowed in as many temporary workers as wanted to come, illegal immigration would probably be a minute problem.
      The eminent domain thing probably isn’t my main objection. The main objection is that it would be a huge, wasteful expense that probably wouldn’t accomplish what it is supposed to accomplish, if it even gets completed, and that it is trying to solve a problem created by bad laws and policy.

      1. But what’s wrong with more Border Patrol agents

        They’re busy 100 miles inland.

        1. I got snagged in one of their citizenship checkpoints in New Mexico. Thankfully they couldn’t smell the one drop.

          1. How the hell is one supposed to prove their citizenship in a random car stop? Drivers licenses don’t generally have citizenship info on them, I don’t think. I’m pretty sure I don’t generally carry around documentation that proves my citizenship.

            1. It’s the honor system, dude. “Are you all American citizens?” “Si.” “Okay then, have a nice day.” I could’ve started recording on my phone and went the “I refuse to answer questions.” route, but my buddies and I really wanted to get to White Sands.

              1. So basically just an excuse for “contact”. Sweet.

                1. Yup. A “mind if I search your car?” would’ve gotten a swift piss off and get a warrant response, though.

                  1. “We’re Border Patrol. We don’t need a warrant.”

          2. I got snagged in one of their citizenship checkpoints in New Mexico.

            Pro tip: That checkpoint is called New Mexico.

            1. With a name like New Mexico, they’re asking for it!

              (Oddly enough, the name of the state came before the country, so the Mexicans be stealing our names, too.)

              1. I grew up within 100 air miles of an international border. I had no idea until I was much older that while living there, my “rights didn’t matter” (to quote a BP official).

        2. That’s more or less what I was getting at.

    4. But what’s wrong with more Border Patrol agents,

      First, I’d like to know we don’t have enough, and that we can’t redeploy what we’ve got to do an adequate job of policing the actual border.

  5. In before John says that Trump really isn’t that bad and that all borders must be closed and that Reason please get your head out of your ass and get with the times!

    1. Most Mexicans are actually secret Muslims. And the rest are Red Chinese.

  6. To the best of my knowledge, not too many successful presidential candidates come out of New York City, okay?

    1. I thought that by being mayor of New York, one was the de facto president of the U.S.

      1. That’s what Giuliani seemed to think. But that didn’t work out so well.

    2. Teddy Roosevelt? Franklin was from the ‘burbs.

      1. What we need is another suburban guy like Grover Cleveland. He had New Jersey values.

  7. Cruz, who was born in Canada

    I for one declare this factoid sufficient enough to determine he’s not fit for anything, let alone national office.

    1. His syrup can go on my pancakes.


      2. That’s a gay thing…right?

        1. To the best of my knowledge, not a lot of pancakes come out of homosexuals.

          1. Yeah, don’t the gays prefer crepes?

            1. Well, only because crepes are delicious…

              Incidentally, I got my standing crepe recipe from Jesse…

            2. I expect so, seeing as crepes are just gay pancakes.

              1. My wild mushroom crepes are purely heterosexual.

                1. Pics or it didn’t happen.

                  1. I would say the same to you about buttsex.

          2. It’s not the pancakes, it’s the syrup that comes from homosexuals.

        2. A well-balanced breakfast is a gay thing? First the bedroom, now my kitchen. When will the homopocalypse end?

          1. Some people need a well-balanced breakfast to get the day started, I only need this.

          2. No, no, no. Brunch is the gay meal. Breakfast is still butch, i think.

            1. I think brunch is only ghey if you also have fancy mimosas

              1. Unabashedly guilty on all counts.

              2. But if it doesn’t have fancy mimosas, you’re kidding yourself – you’re not eating brunch, just a late breakfast.

  8. I actually caught a Ted Cruz commercial on TV the other day; they are becoming increasingly difficult to avoid.

    He sounds like a fucking chipmunk. I expected him to break out in song before the commercial ended.

    1. That’s pretty much the only thing about Ted Cruz that I notice when I hear or see him. I think he is part Muppet.

      1. The illicit lovechild of Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker

      2. All I ever see is a sad clown. Except for that picture that Nick keeps using, in which he looks like a lecherous clown.

      3. Do a GIS for Bill Murray playing Bunny Breckenridge in “Ed Wood.” The resemblance is uncanny.

        1. I am not going to GIS anything recommended to me by you, Old Man. I’d end up on a list somewhere, no doubt.

          1. You won’t look at BILL MURRAY????

            You’re dead to me. DEAD. TO. ME.

  9. “Asked to explain what, exactly, that means, Cruz added, “They’re not Iowa values, and they’re not New Hampshire values,” clarifying nothing.”

    Considering how many times New York has popped up in one of Reason’s Nanny of the Month videos, I think you know precisely what he means by New York values

    1. Cruz seems to be forgetting that a lot of money comes out of “New York values”. Trump just won the support of all those rich Wall Street donors.

      1. “Trump just won the support of all those rich Wall Street donors.”

        That’s the end of Hilary!

      2. Wall Street funds it book, not its “values” (if it has any).

  10. Trump is pretty awful. He is the reason why I am contemplating voting Libertarian for the first time since 2000.

  11. Trump has been kind enough to fill us in on what constitutes New York values

    “One thing it means is energy. You know, when the World Trade Center got hit, we rebuilt that World Trade Center and we got through and very few places in this world could have gotten through what we went through. I mean, I was so proud of New York, the World Trade Center, these two massive, 110 story buildings come down, thousands of people killed. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. And immediately the rebuilding started.”

    1. It’s ironic that he uses rebuilding the WTC as an example of them getting right too it because it didn’t finish until 2014, a full 13 years after 9/11.

      1. Erm… it’s still not “done” done. But my God to be throw such a softball and completely whiff it. I guess that means he really is one of the stupid party after all.

    2. Oh damn, he’s just setting himself up – didn’t “starting” rebuilding involve years of squabble and procedure before it was even decided what in the world you are gonna put on the site?

      1. Saying “9-11! New York rules!” didn’t work for Giuliani 8 years ago, it definitely won’t work now.

      2. “years of squabble and procedure”

        Another New York value!

    3. His rambling style really produces some great lines. He’s so proud to see those buildings come down and thousands of people killed.

      1. “Those people, those New Yorkers. They fell out of the building with great energy. It was tremendous. I’ve never seen anything like it. The way they hit the ground was so classy and confident. America needs people who fall out of buildings like that.”

  12. When Trump says you’re not qualified to be President, and you respond by showing that you are, how on earth can that be boiled down to a plague-o’-both-your-houses “spat” reflecting badly on both sides?

  13. A debate between the two of them would be incredibly entertaining.

  14. “Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values,” Cruz said on Tuesday.

    Where in New York? Buffalo? Rochester? Albany? Montauk? Hoboken?

    1. Hoboken is NJ, yo

      1. THAT’S THE JOKE, YO

        At least I hope so…

      2. Whatever, dude. Next you’ll tell me West New York isn’t actually in New York.

        1. What about Nueva Nueva York, huh? Won’t someone think of the Invaders?!?

          1. They must be with the First Order.

  15. Please don’t look at this as a reflection on Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

    This is a reflection of more that 60% of the American Republican Voter.
    They tend to be callous, racist, ethnocentric, assholes, and really really really stupid and generally POOR.

    1. And they indulge in bigotry and stereotyping!

    2. See, I don’t believe it’s callous, racist, ethnocentrism so much as “I’m fucking tired of the same old bullshit that the establishment candidates spit out of their asses. We don’t need another Romneyesque nominee.”

      And I think that applies equally to the people supporting Trump AND the people supporting Sanders.

    3. I wouldn’t have thought that Obama would post comments at Reason.

    4. Its basically the the same illiterate idiots that are the D base….love the real DB but fuck off troll.

  16. From Coulter’s article:

    “The best argument for Cruz being a natural born citizen is that in 1790, the first Congress passed a law that provided: “The children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens.”…

    “The most plausible interpretation of the 1790 statute is that Congress was saying the rights of naturalized citizens born abroad are the same as the rights of the natural born — except the part about not being natural born.”

    1. Yeah, that’s dumb. “Considered as natural born citizens” means what it says. And no where in the constitution is “natural born” defined as “born within the territory of the USA”.

      1. Congress may have been wrong in 1790, and those who believe Congress was wrong should say so.

        The problem is that the Constitutional interpretations of the First Congress are treated with great (though not unconditional) respect, so that if you think they’re wrong you have a hard row to hoe.

        1. That’s true. But it’s always a dumb and opportunistic argument. We have no access to what the “right” interpretation is. He was born a citizen. Good e-fucking-nough.

      2. The distinction between “natural born” and “naturalized” isn’t, as so many would like you to believe, the same as the European notions of “jus soli” (right of the soil) and “jus sanguinis” (right of the blood).

        It is the difference, as the First Cngress made clear, between a “natural born” citizen at birth, and a “naturalized” citizen who acquired that status after birth.

      3. “Considered as natural born citizens” means what it says.

        Yea, but it says that in a law, not an amendment.

        And no where in the constitution is “natural born” defined as “born within the territory of the USA”.

        That’s what it meant in common law at the time.

        Here’s a less-Coultery explanation. http://originalismblog.typepad…..elson.html

        (The Constitution is dead. None of this really matters.)

        1. OK, he’s less retarded than Coulter. He doesn’t say that *nobody* born outside the U.S. is a natural-born citizen.

          He says that if you’re born abroad, you’re only a natural-born citizen if Dad was a citizen.

          OK, that’s more plausible. You can argue that the Constitution was, in modern terminology, sexist, and never contemplated someone being born abroad as a natural-born citizen just because Mom was a citizen.

    2. Or maybe “natural born” refers to the birth itself and no one born by c-section is eligible to be president.

      1. “Macduff was from his mother’s womb/Untimely ripped”

      2. Why would you trust someone who had to be surgically removed from their mother, like a tumor?

        1. “Maybe it was the eleven months he spent in the womb. The doctor said there were claw marks on the walls of her uterus.”

            1. +1 big hand

  17. ” In a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll of Iowans, 15 percent indicated they felt “bothered” by the fact that Cruz was born in Canada. Conservative voters have become so feverishly opposed to immigration that even the hint of a foreign connection is enough to make them wary of a candidate.”

    In fairness, I’d say that 15% of one state’s primary voters saying they’re ‘bothered’ by something doesn’t really mean “conservative voters” are “feverishly opposed” to any “foreign connection.”

    1. And I bet 15% of any population would say they’re concerned about Obama’s birth certificate, or UFOs, or any other fringe belief.

  18. New Yorkers are a silly, indolent, childlike people, who prefer song and dance and fornication to honest labor, and will likely only ever be brought to some productive social contribution by the Whip.

  19. OT: Is Alice Bowie sitting shiva?

  20. Walls are so last century. A mile wide mine field would be much more of a deterrent. Replace the ones detonated by the unlucky animals and former immigrants with heliborne mine replacement guys. If you make it across the minefield with all your extremities intact, Welcome to America! You’re a citizen. How ’bout that? No citizenship for illegals who build their own airplanes and fly over the minefield, but they get work visas, because people who can build and successfully fly an airplane will prove to be useful to America. I think. We can import our fruit pickers legally this way, because they aren’t going to risk the minefield. If you’re really freaked out by that, you can put ankle bracelets on the pickers like parolees and track em, right? Sarcasm alert.

  21. I don’t care about the GOP primary, all I want to see is Hillary indicted halfway through the general election. That would be a whole new level of entertainment politics.

    1. Hillary for Prison 2016!

  22. So it’s unreasonable to stoke fears that American can go the way of Rotherham and Cologne if we’re not careful (and, given the response to the Philadelphia cop-shooting, it may already be happening here and just kept quiet out of the same sort of political correctness afflicting European coverage). And when the rape rate shoots up here, what then? It’s too late once the barbarians are already inside the gates.

  23. It is not clear Cruz is eligible. i believe most constitutional scholars say it is an unresolved issue.

  24. I didn’t realize Suderman was a federal judge able to make rulings on citizenship status.

  25. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.


  26. This was nothing compared to the brawl Cruz had with Rubio. I think that Trump was doing Ted a favor by warning him the Dems would raise a stink, not to mention how they’re the pathetic ones trying to egg them on and keep the debate alive.

    1. The Dems will raise a stink. After 7 years of the Republicans challenging Obama’s birth certificate why wouldn’t they? Obama’s mother was a US citizen too, so according to Cruz where he was born never mattered, yet the Republicans made it a huge issue.

      Really I disagree.

      Cruz’s examples of Goldwater and McCain do not hold true. Goldwater was born in a US territory, making him a citizen. McCain was born on US soil, as a lot of children of military and Diplotmatic parents in another country, but military bases, embassies and at the time the Panama canal zone were all US soil. Both had two US citizen parents and neither ever held citizenship in another counrty. Cruz has one US parent and was born in Canada. He is not in my opinion a “natural born” US citizen. He claimed and held Canadain citizen ship until very recently, when he decide to run for President. The Republicans duplicity on this matter shows the sad state of political affairs in the US, and that the Republican party is no better than the Democratic party. Both parties are liars that cannot be trusted. The Republicans will flaut the law anytime they want also.

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