Political observers appear to be on the verge of the showdown they've been looking forward to for months: Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz for the political equivalent of the World Heavyweight Title.
Trump got in a haymaker last week, questioning whether or not Cruz, who was born in Canada to a mother who was an American citizen, was constitutionally eligible to run for president. And now Cruz has swung back, referencing Trump's connections to Democrats and political liberals.
The Florida senator went on the counterattack Tuesday evening on the Hugh Hewitt Show. After discussing the "birther" issue, as well as the capture of nearly a dozen U.S. sailors by the Iranian navy, he reversed the tables, questioning the businessman's grasp of issues relevant to the presidency.
In the previous CNN debate, Hewitt asked about the nation's three-sided nuclear deterrent, known as the "nuclear triad," but was unable to get an answer from every candidate. So he has made a point to ask the candidates who weren't able to answer whenever they come onto his show.
In response to the question about which aspect of the three—ground, air or sea-based weapons—should receive a priority for upgrade, Cruz said:
"Right, well, there's no doubt that strengthening the nuclear triad is critically important. It was a very good question. I was glad you asked it, Hugh. Listen, all three legs of the triad are important. You rightly noted that our long range bombers are so old that if they were people, they would quality for Social Security. But I think of the three legs, the most important is our subs, the Ohio Class subs that are within a decade of ending their useful life. The subs are the most important for projecting power. They're the hardest for the enemy to take out. And we need a replacement for the Ohio Class submarine. You've been really leading on this issue a long time, Hugh. And we need to improve all three legs of the triad, but if you were to pick a top priority of the triad, for me, it would clearly be our subs."
This was a question that seemed to stump Trump in the last debate. Hewitt asked Cruz if his response demonstrated "an issue on which you will see daylight between you and Donald Trump as to capacity and ability to earn votes," to which Cruz said:
"Well, I do think the most important determination that the voters are making is who is prepared to be commander in chief, who has the knowledge, who has the experience, who has the judgment and clarity of vision and strength and resolve to keep this country safe. And it is certainly relevant to voters. Does a potential commander in chief know what the nuclear triad is, much less is he or she prepared and able to strengthen it and keep this country safe? And it's certainly relevant, does a commander in chief understand who our enemy is, radical Islamic terrorism, (and) understand how to defeat it not just based on what's said on Sunday shows on TV, but actually understanding the nature of the threat and what is required to defeat it? And I believe that's one of the reasons why support has been growing behind our campaign is that more and more Americans are looking for a commander-in-chief who's prepared to keep America safe. And as president, there will be no higher responsibility that I would have than to keep America safe."
The interview ended with its own boxing analogy, with Hewitt asking if Cruz saw himself as Muhammad Ali or Joe Frazier. Skirting the question with his answer, Cruz acknowledged he had exhausted his "repertoire of boxing analogies."
Cruz then said he would continue to lay out his "positive, conservative, optimistic vision" for the country. Speaking of all his opponents, he said, "They talk a good game on the trail, but they haven't walked the walk."
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