MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. – Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump sought to obliterate rival Ted Cruz before hundreds of local Republican activists here Monday, labeling the Texas senator “a liar” and “the most dishonest” person in politics.
Trump was retaliating after Cruz escalated his attacks on the billionaire mogul, pointing out his past inconsistencies on social issues and arguing that he could not be trusted to nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court.
“I’ve never met people like politicians,” Trump said as he addressed the East Cooper Republican Club's luncheon in this suburb of Charleston. “They are the most dishonest people I’ve ever met…. Jeb [Bush] is just Jeb. But this guy, Ted Cruz, is the most dishonest guy I think I’ve ever met in politics.”
Calling Cruz “a liar,” Trump warned the crowd: “You have to be very smart. You have to be very careful. You’ve got a very unstable guy in Cruz. He’s nuts.”
Trump mocked Cruz for infusing his Christian faith into his campaign in an effort to win over evangelical voters.
“The worst is holding up a Bible all the time,” Trump said of Cruz. “You’re willing to lie about anything, but then you’re holding up a Bible? To me, it’s no good.”
Trump suggested he would be the stronger guardian of Christian values, and announced that Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University and son of the late televangelist, will be campaigning with him in South Carolina this week.
“Christianity is being chopped away at,” he said. “Chop, chop, chop.”
Trump said that Iowa Republican officials should revoke Cruz’s win in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses because of his campaign’s shadowy tactics, including telling some caucus goers that Ben Carson was suspending his campaign when in fact he was not.
“What he did to Ben Carson was despicable,” Trump said. “If Iowa had any guts, the people from the Republican Party, which they don’t, they should disqualify him from winning Iowa. I really mean it, because what he did was a fraud.”
Trump said that Cruz’s donors represent “a who’s who” of corporate special interests and suggested that, if elected, the Texan as well as Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush would be improperly influenced by their top campaign donors.
“They will be totally controlled, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it,” Trump said.
Trump aimed most of his rhetorical fire at Cruz, but he took a few shots at Bush. He noted that Bush’s older brother, former president George W. Bush, was making a high-profile return to the political arena later Monday in nearby North Charleston.
“Ever ask yourself why his brother went silent for all these years?” Trump said of Bush.
He added, of Jeb Bush, “I said, ‘Why don’t you use the last name?...It’s better than exclamation points.”