FREEDOM, N.H. — Shortly before Donald Trump questioned whether Ted Cruz had the "temperament" to serve as president Tuesday morning, the Texas senator was ratcheting up his own offensive against the real estate mogul -- this week, for the first time, attacking him by name.
At a stop here, he painted Trump as a friend of Wall Street flustered by Cruz's ascendance in polls.
"Mr. Trump enthusiastically supported the TARP big-bank bailouts. I disagree with him. We should have no bailouts of Wall Street banks," said Cruz, standing near wicker baskets hanging from the ceiling of a general store here. Trump has criticized Cruz over a report that he didn't property disclose loans he and wife Heidi took out to finance Cruz's 2012 Senate run. The loans, which the senator said were paid back in full, came from Citibank and Goldman Sachs, where Heidi Cruz is a managing director on leave.
Even as the pace and intensity of the attacks increased, the Texas senator insisted Tuesday he's still looking to draw policy distinctions between the two, not engage in personal attacks.
"I have no interest in engaging in an insult fight. I don’t think the American people care about a bunch of politicians behaving like petulant children," Cruz said. "Excellent!" a woman in the crowd said loudly.
Cruz continued: "But I do think substantive policy differences are fair game. That’s what politics is supposed to be about."
The senator also said that he likes Trump but repeated his recent assessment that the national front-runner is "rattled" and "throwing insults my way."
On Monday night, Cruz drew even greater distinctions between the two, telling a crowd at a high school in Whitefield, N.H., that Trump didn't discover the issue of immigration until he started running for president and that he backs eminent domain and the government taking away private property.
Cruz also got in a knock on Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), telling the crowd that Rubio supported government subsidies for sugar companies as a "national security priority."
Trump is making several stops today in Iowa, where Cruz appears to have a small advantage in the polls. Cruz is spending the next few days in New Hampshire, where Trump leads the rest of the field by double-digits in the most recent surveys this month.