Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the national co-chair of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign, said on Friday that in retrospect, it wasn’t a great idea for Cruz to bring up Donald Trump’s “New York values” during the Thursday night Republican presidential debate.
During an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” co-host Chris Cuomo asked King whether Cruz went too far with that line of attack.
“I didn’t think he went too far until I saw Donald Trump’s reaction. And then I thought it would have been better on the part of Ted Cruz not to have had that exchange,” King told Cuomo.
“I thought it was one of the times when you saw Donald Trump actually show you more of his heart than we’ve seen on the campaign trail,” the congressman continued. “He meant what he said. You could tell that he was reliving some of the pain of Sept. 11, 2001.”
King noted that Cruz didn’t intend to criticize New York City’s attempts to rebuild following 9/11.
“But he really flipped that — Ted Cruz didn’t go there, but Donald Trump elected to go into the Sept. 11 and the damage and the suffering and the thousands of people that were killed and he turned that into an emotional component of the debate,” he said. “That, I believe, was good for Trump.”
But the congressman said that Trump’s reaction may have gone too far.
“Some of those punches were below the belt when he brought up Sept. 11 because there’s no way to defend yourself from that. That wasn’t the topic. He just adopted it and brought it in,” King said. “But he did it so deftly.”
Cruz recently attempted to separate himself from Trump by mentioning that the real estate mogul “embodies New York values,” and the Texas senator offered his definition for that in Thursday night’s debate.
“Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage. Focus [is] around money and the media,” Cruz said Thursday.
But Trump turned Cruz’s line back around and described how New York City recovered from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death and even the smell of death—nobody understood it,” Trump said during the debate. “And it was with us for months. The smell. The air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched, and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers, and I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.”
Watch King’s interview via CNN:
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