WASHINGTON, N.H. — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ratcheted up his criticism of Donald Trump Monday, suggesting there are night-and-day differences between the Democrat-turned-Republican presidential hopeful and former President Ronald Reagan.
"Donald did an interview where he described that he thinks that he's bigger than Ronald Reagan — I think the American people will make that determination," Cruz told reporters ahead of his second campaign stop of the day.
"I would note that Ronald Reagan spent decades as a principled conservative, spent decades traveling the country sharing his conservative, free-market views [and] defending the Constitution," Cruz continued. "Ronald Reagan did not spend the first 60 years of his life supporting Democratic politicians, advocating for big government politics, supporting things like the big bank bailouts, supporting things like expanding Obamacare to turn it into socialized medicine."
"That's not what Ronald Reagan did," the Texas senator noted. "Ronald Reagan was a voice of consistency and I'm pretty sure that Ronald Reagan didn't write checks and support Democratic politicians like Andrew Cuomo, like Anthony Weiner, like Hillary Clinton. I'm pretty sure Ronald Reagan didn't write a huge check to Rahm Emanuel in December of 2010 after the big Tea Party wave."
Cruz, who now leads Trump in state-level surveys of Iowa Republicans and is polling second behind him nationally, said Trump seems "a little rattled."
"There's a reason he is very, very dismayed," he said. "Conservatives are here to unite as his poll numbers continue to go down and he's a little testy about it."
Trump lit into Cruz during the sixth GOP primary debate last Thursday, continuing to push the issue of his Canadian birth status. While Cruz defended himself on stage, he claims he will not attack Trump on the campaign trail.
"From my end, I have no intention of engaging," Cruz said. "If he wants to engage in insults, that's his prerogative. I like Donald Trump, I respect Donald Trump. I'm going to keep the focus of this campaign on substance of issues."
Cruz is slated to visit all 10 counties in New Hampshire during his five-day, 17-stop bus tour through the state. He will not participate in the New Hampshire GOP's first-in-the-nation town hall series this weekend.