WASHINGTON, N.H. — Sen. Ted Cruz had a message for Donald Trump: You're no Ronald Reagan.
Trump, who has been hit for shifting from a more liberal to conservative viewpoint, has said that Reagan similarly evolved. Cruz dismissed the assertion, escalating the war of words between the Texas Republican and the real estate mogul.
"Ronald Reagan did not spend the first 60 years of his life supporting Democratic politicians, advocating for big-government policies, supporting things like the tarp big bank bailout, supporting things like expanding Obamacare to turn it into socialized medicine. That’s not what Ronald Reagan did," Cruz told reporters here.
He then rattled off a list of Democratic politicians to whom he said Trump donated money, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former representative Anthony Weiner.
"I understand that every Republican candidate tries to compare themselves to Reagan. But at the end of the day, the American people are going to assess who’s telling the truth," Cruz said in a kitchen; he was holding a town hall in the next room.
Cruz also drew distinct parallels between himself and Trump on issues of policy.
"I disagree with Donald. Donald says he wants to maintain President Obama's Iranian nuclear deal and go in and perhaps try to renegotiate some of the terms," Cruz said. "I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal on the first day I’m sworn into office. That’s a difference on substance."
The Texas Republican also poked Trump for focusing on polls and being a prolific user of Twitter.
"We need a commander-in-chief who bases his decisions on the real threats facing this country ... not on the opinion polls of the day," he said. "We need a leader who is prepared to do whatever is needed to keep this country safe, and that typically doesn’t include spending your time on Twitter."
Cruz said Trump "seems to be a little rattled" and is "dismayed" by Cruz's support here and around the country.
The Texas Republican has ripped into the real estate mogul with the media, but has been less aggressive while talking to voters, telling people in Tilton, N.H., that he wants to focus on the issues.
The two men had an odd political detante that ended last week, when Cruz forcefully swung back against Trump's weeks-long questioning of his birthplace and religion.