Trump at Brown ‘BBQ’ tears into Cruz over loans, ‘NY values’
By Evan Lips | January 16, 2016, 19:45 EST
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Blinding snow didn’t prevent Donald Trump supporters from flocking to a Toyota dealership’s showroom by the hundreds for a noontime rally Saturday, an event hosted by Scott Brown, the one-time darling of tea party followers and Republican U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.
The dedication of supporters who navigated unplowed roads and poor visibility to attend the event, held at Toyota of Portsmouth, wasn’t lost on the billionaire GOP presidential candidate from Manhattan.
“I have to admit, we don’t have snow like this in New York,” Trump told the crowd jammed into the cavernous showroom.
But he quickly turned to the political climate, stoking his rivalry with Ted Cruz, his closest competitor in recent voter surveys, and what the Texas senator had derisively referred to as Trump’s “New York values.” The comment by Cruz during Thursday night’s GOP debate prompted a demand for an apology from Empire State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a New York Daily News headline: DROP DEAD, TED.”
Recalling how he once wondered, ‘When is Ted Cruz going to say something bad about me?’, Trump said Cruz did more than that.
“He finally went off the wagon a little bit and went a little crazy,” Trump said. During the debate, he rebutted the Texan’s comment by invoking the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the city’s World Trade Center attacks, noting how he “watched these incredible people rebuild from the day the towers came down.”
But Cruz hasn’t backed off, or apologized.
Instead, his campaign released a video clip from a 1999 appearance by Trump on NBC television’s “Meet the Press” show in which Trump declares that he is “very, very pro-choice” on abortion and would not ban partial-birth or trimester procedures. Trump repeatedly cites his New York upbringing as a factor driving his views.
Trump is also is seen saying he would support gays serving openly in the military, then not allowed, while punting on the question of same-sex marriage.
At the appearance in Portsmouth, Trump went on the offensive.
Cruz failed to disclose an approximately $500,000 2012 Senate campaign loan received from Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs, the bank that employs his wife, Heidi Cruz, as well as a line of credit from Citibank with a similar value, Trump pointed out. Cruz has blamed the omissions on oversights.
“He said he forgot,” Trump said. “You’re a Senator and yet you owe them money with a personal guarantee – I don’t think it works that way. He obviously didn’t want the voters to know that he is totally controlled lock, stock and barrell by Citibank and by Goldman Sachs.”
Trump, who has enjoyed a sizable lead in the Granite State over the other GOP contenders, has seen Cruz creep up the standings, particularly in Iowa, where the two are virtually tied, according to RealClearPolitics.com polling averages. Yet in national polls, Cruz still trails Trump by an average of 15 percentage points, and in New Hampshire, he trails by 19.
Trump also took on the media over accuracy issues, with reporters and photographers watching from a bank of benches.
“I’ve been written about very falsely and the public gets it, the public understands,” Trump said. His primary target, though, was conservative radio talk-show host Glenn Beck.
He pointed to Beck’s recent comments during an appearance Friday night on the “O’Reilly Factor” show on the Fox News cable network. Beck claimed Trump voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
Trump lashed back, saying he actively backed Republican John McCain, the Arizona Senator. But in July, as he was ramping up his own campaign, Trump denied that McCain was a war hero. A Navy combat pilot who was captured and tortured in North Vietnam during the war there, McCain received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star and three bronze stars for heroism, according to MilitaryTimes.com.
Despite widespread condemnation, Trump refused to apologize to McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate who lost to Obama. He was scathing in his criticism of Beck.
“This dopey guy, Glenn Beck, he looks like hell,” Trump said. “I’ve watched him cry on television all the time. He’s doing very badly, his company is falling apart.”
Trump claimed Beck began bashing him after he wouldn’t appear on Beck’s radio show.
“He asked me so many times, do my show,” Trump recalled. “I didn’t do it because I don’t respect him, I was too busy, I couldn’t do his show, time-wise.”
Trump, whose campaign has thrived on the candidate’s over-the-top pronouncements, returned to one of his first stump themes: immigration. He has called for deporting the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally and promised to force Mexico to pay for a wall along the U.S. border to prevent illicit crossings. At one point, Trump asked the crowd who would pay for it, to roars of “Mexico!”
“Of course they will,” Trump said. “Every business person in here knows what I’m talking about. They make so much money off of the United States.”
Mexico’s leaders “are too smart for our leaders,” Trump said. “They’re too cunning.”
“What’s happening at the border is a disgrace,” he said.
In introducing Trump, Brown called the former reality TV star a “dear friend” and pointed out that the New Yorker is “talking about things that people are talking about in their living rooms and in their dining rooms.”
Brown, who has hosted a series of candidates at gatherings Dubbed the “No BS Backyard BBQ” series at his Rye, New Hampshire, home, has not endorsed Trump. The former Senator will host Cruz on Tuesday night.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have all attended their own sessions at Brown’s house. Saturday’s weather and expectations for a big crowd prompted the relocation to the car dealer’s showroom.
“This is something I thought would be a good idea to get the candidates to come through to be able to meet you face to face, to give you the chance to ask questions,” said Gail Huff, Brown’s wife and a TV journalist.
“There’s a good man, by the way,” Trump said about Brown, who won election to the Senate amid a surge of conservative voters in 2010 to fill the Massachusetts seat long held by the late Ted Kennedy, only to lose his 2012 reelection bid. Brown took another shot at returning to the Senate in 2014, moving to New Hampshire and losing again.
“Vice president,” a supporter shouted, drawing cheers from the rest of the crowd.