Senator Ted Cruz has thrown down the gauntlet in a war of words against fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump, and he likely did not even realize it. Trump tried to launch a Twitter war against Ted Cruz on Friday. The provocation was apparently a New York Times report that Cruz criticized Trump and Ben Carson’s judgment and leadership in a leaked audio recording from a private fundraiser in New York City on Wednesday. In it, Cruz is reportedly heard voicing his disbelief that Carson or Trump could win — an outcome which could potentially bode well for Cruz, as many have speculated that he has strategically aligned himself to absorb Trump and Carson supporters in case either drop out of the race. In public, Cruz has so far held off on commenting negatively on either of the two competitor’s campaigns, but in the private audio commentary, he reportedly goes into greater detail about what he considers Trump and Carson’s shortfalls:
You look at Paris, you look at San Bernardino, it’s given a seriousness to this race, that people are looking for: Who is prepared to be a commander in chief? Who understands the threats we face?
Who am I comfortable having their finger on the button? Now that’s a question of strength, but it’s also a question of judgment. And I think that is a question that is a challenging question for both of them.
Trump previously declared that he would not attack Cruz unless he attacked first, so it's unsurprising that once news of Cruz comments surfaced in the New York Times, Trump decided to hit back:
Looks like @tedcruz is getting ready to attack. I am leading by so much he must. I hope so, he will fall like all others. Will be easy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2015
In a second tweet, he also criticized Cruz for the leaked nature of the statements, which seemed to show him saying something different in private than he does in public:
.@tedcruz should not make statements behind closed doors to his bosses, he should bring them out into the open - more fun that way!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2015
Cruz sent out his own tweet later that day in response, seemingly attempting to diffuse the rift:
What happens next is yet to be seen, but Cruz had to know he’d be on the receiving end of Donald Trump’s Twitter comments eventually. After all, Trump is not shy when it comes to taking aim at his critics. And if Cruz isn’t quite yet sure how to move forward, he may want to look at some of Trump’s previous Twitter wars for some pointers:
First up is Trump’s fellow GOP candidate — and notably, the only female Republican in the game — Carly Fiorina. Trump didn’t wait long to lob some shots her way, commenting on everything from her business and political prowess, which is admittedly better than Trump's comments about Fiorina's face.
.@CarlyFiorina had to inject herself into my factual statements concerning Ben Carson in order to breathe life into her failing campaign!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2015
I just realized that if you listen to Carly Fiorina for more than ten minutes straight, you develop a massive headache. She has zero chance!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2015
Although Fiorina has yet to start a Twitter war wiht Trump, she has thrown some subtle shade at Trump in interviews.
Senator Rand Paul has also been on the receiving end of Trump vitriol, with Trump calling him a “lightweight” and an embarrassment.
Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2015
Lightweight Senator @RandPaul should focus on trying to get elected in Kentucky--- a great state which is embarrassed by him.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2015
But Paul isn't taking Trump's comments too seriously or even to heart. In a September appearance on CNN's News Day, Paul referred to Trump as a clown and questioned how anyone could consider him a fit presidential candidate.
Former New York Governor George Pataki is no fan of Donald Trump, and received the expected Trump Twitter-lashing as a result.
.@GovernorPataki was a terrible governor of NY, one of the worst -- would’ve been swamped if he ran again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2015
.@GovernorPataki couldn’t be elected dog catcher if he ran again—so he didn’t!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2015
These comments only fueled Pataki's disdain for Trump, and made sure people knew he wouldn't vote form Trump.
Oh, Jeb. Despite languishing in the polls, Jeb Bush has frequently been a target of Trump criticism, which can get pretty harsh.
I cannot believe how bad Jeb Bush looks with his insane answer on Iraq, and then his numerous corrections which made him look even worse.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 15, 2015
Jeb Bush gave five different answers in four days on whether or not we should have invaded Iraq.He is so confused.Not presidential material!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2015
Jeb Bush will never secure our border or negotiate great trade deals for American workers. Jeb doesn't see & can't solve the problems.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2015
Can you envision Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton negotiating with 'El Chapo', the Mexican drug lord who escaped from prison? ....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 13, 2015
Jeb Bush signed memo saying not to use the term "anchor babies," offensive. Now he wants to use it because I use it. Stay true to yourself!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2015
Jeb Bush just talked about my border proposal to build a "fence." It's not a fence, Jeb, it's a WALL, and there's a BIG difference!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2015
Ah, Trump, ever the team player. With The Donald’s frequent Twitter attacks against pretty much anyone who criticizes him, it was only a matter of time before they started flying Ted Cruz’s way. At least Cruz knows he wasn't singled out?