LAS VEGAS — Donald Trump ripped into rival Ted Cruz on the eve of Nevada's Republican presidential caucuses, telling thousands of cheering supporters here Monday night that the Texas senator is "sick" and "a liar."
Trump was retaliating over a Cruz campaign commercial running on television here that charges that Trump would maintain much of Nevada's land under federal government control.
"I don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about," Trump said of the ad. "It's a Cruz scam!"
For years, the land-use issue has been a local controversy and Cruz has been talking about it on the campaign trail here in a bid to attract rural voters. Roughly 85 percent of the state's land is controlled by the federal government, but Cruz says he would turn power over to the state and ranchers.
At his rally before 8,000 people packed into the equestrian arena of a Las Vegas hotel and casino, Trump acknowledged that he knew little about the land-use issue. Watching the ad, he said, “I’m saying to myself, 'Well, it’s not a subject I know anything about.' It’s a hell of an ad. This is a Cruz ad. This guy is sick. There’s something wrong with this guy.”
Trump predicted Nevadans would turn against Cruz: "They don’t want to vote for a liar."
Though Trump is favored to win Tuesday's Nevada caucuses, he told the crowd he was not resting on his laurels.
"You’ve gotta vote tomorrow," Trump said. "You’ve gotta vote, vote, vote!...We have a big lead and we don't want to blow it."
Trump's rally was rambunctious, drawing loud cheers and repeated chants of "USA! USA!" Protesters tried to cause disruptions at least three times; after the third, Trump said from his lectern, "I'd like to punch him in the face."
Trump reveled in his decisive victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina and the broad coalition he has assembled in his quest for the presidency.
"I won short people, tall people," Trump said. "I won fat people, skinny people. I won highly educated, okay educated and practically not educated at all. I love them all!"