Are Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump a dynamic duo or mortal enemies in the 2016 presidential race?
The pair of candidates were scheduled to meet behind closed doors Wednesday in New York City and Republican strategists are guessing about the nature of their relationship.
Since launching his presidential bid in mid-June, Trump has gone from reality TV star to GOP front-runner and developed the same anti-establishment appeal as Cruz on the campaign trail.
Cruz's Republican confidantes recently told the Washington Post that the Tea Party senator thinks the two candidates' overlapping messages can serve them well in the GOP's crowded field of White House contenders.
However, some GOP strategists disagree. They argue that Trump has all but replaced Cruz as the anti-establishment candidate.
Republican strategist and president of QGA Public Affairs John Feehery says Trump is "killing Cruz's thunder."
He and other Republican insiders believe Trump has effectively stolen the senator's populist rhetoric and repeated it in a less sophisticated but more appealing manner.
"He is saying the exact same things as Cruz except he says them with more flair and more credibility as a non-politician," Feehery told the Washington Examiner.
Jeffrey Lord, contributing editor to the American Spectator, recently wrote that "when a serious chunk of the conservative base of the Republican Party looks at the Washington GOP Establishment, they see not conservatives, but Insiders."
"[But] when millions of average Americans look at Donald Trump they see — shocker! — themselves," Lord wrote.
Former McCain campaign aide Ford O'Connell says that kind of relatability has allowed Trump to steal Cruz's spotlight "particularly among white working class workers who are looking for a fighter."
However, O'Connell notes that Cruz is "not blind to this at all."
"He is providing guarded compliments to Trump because he knows that the Trump balloon is going to bust and he wants to ensure that he's there to take his place when it does," O'Connell told the Examiner.
"Both men are battling for the same set of core supporters and at this stage, if Trump does eventually bow out, he would most likely support Cruz," O'Connell said.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Trump admitted that he is unsure why Cruz has requested that the two candidates meet.
"Ted Cruz called me and I don't know why I'm meeting him, to be honest, but I do have a lot of respect for him," Trump told host Joe Scarborough.
Neither campaign returned the Examiner's request for comment, but a spokesperson for Cruz recently announced that the senator has partnered with a data-analyzing company to try to expand his message using "the most extensive grassroots program in American history."
Despite The Donald's unparalleled personality and strong performance in the polls, O'Connell says Cruz could still benefit in the long run and that the meeting could be Cruz's attempt to cozy up to the billionaire business mogul in case Trump doesn't go much further in the race.
"Trump's rise could be beneficial to Cruz because the question is: How long is Trump going to last as a candidate?" O'Connell said.