Trump and Cruz trade blows as bickering gets 'nasty'
The rolling brawl between the US Republican presidential front-runners rumbled on yesterday as Donald Trump described his closest competitor Ted Cruz as "nasty", while the Texas senator criticised the billionaire's "New York values".
"He's a nasty guy," Mr Trump said in a TV interview. "Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.
"He's got an edge that's not good. You can't make deals with people like that and it's not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the country," said Mr Trump, who has led Republican opinion polls for months.
The spat between the pair, who earlier in the campaign had called each other friends, has intensified since the Republican debate on January 14, when the Texan attacked reality television star Trump's "New York values" and policy positions, including past support for abortion.
Mr Cruz repeated his criticism of "New York values" yesterday, saying: "People understand exactly what that is. In South Carolina, when I was there, the people there certainly understand it."
He pointed to the real estate magnate's own statements which included a 1999 interview in which Mr Trump ascribed his pro-choice views and support for gays serving in the military in part to having lived all his life in New York.
"My views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa," Mr Trump said at the time.
Mr Trump responded last night by saying Mr Cruz had taken money from backers who are pro-gay marriage. "He's a total hypocrite," said Trump.
A 'Real Clear Politics' average of recent opinion polls show Mr Trump running marginally ahead of Mr Cruz in Iowa but holding a bigger lead in New Hampshire, where Florida Senator Marco Rubio is in second place.
Those states will have the nation's first nominating contests of 2016.