On Wednesday, the clash between Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz devolved into the sort of thing one would expect from a race for 7th grade class president if the teachers all left the building.
Cruz appeared at a press conference in South Carolina brandishing a cease-and-desist letter from attorneys with the Trump campaign who threatened him with a lawsuit if he does not stop running an advertisement attacking Trump for his past positions on abortion. He all but begged Trump to sue him, suggesting that he would even like to depose the billionaire himself in the case.
Then Cruz was sidelined by accusations being stung by the Marco Rubio campaign that his campaign has been using underhanded tactics to influence voters in South Carolina – specifically push polls and a Facebook post that falsely suggested popular South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy had retracted his endorsement for Rubio and thrown his support behind Cruz.
Saying that his campaign had nothing to do with either push polling or the Facebook post, Cruz went with the tried and true Middle School defense: “I know you are but what am I?” accusing Rubio himself of using push polls in the Palmetto State.
Cruz had barely finished his press conference when the Trump campaign fired off a written response to him. In typical Trump fashion, it was long on insults and denigration and notably short on specifics. He accused him of dirty campaign tactics, both in South Carolina and earlier, in Iowa, where some of his staff falsely informed Ben Carson voters that their candidate was dropping out of the race.
Then he took a crack at the ‘Cruz for President’ logo, which includes a flame, saying, “Watching his campaign go up in flames finally explains Cruz’s logo.” With regard to the lawsuit, he said that the suit he is threatening is one that would challenge Cruz’s eligibility to be president based on his birth in Canada, albeit to an American mother.
“If I want to bring the lawsuit regarding Sen. Cruz being a natural born Canadian I will do so,” he said. “Time will tell, Teddy.”
At almost the same time, Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino – one day removed from tweeting out a quote slamming Cruz that he falsely attributed to retired Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) – began tweeting out amateurish (and grammatically problematic) graphic calling Trump “made in America” and Cruz and “anchor baby.”
As with most of the Trump campaign’s efforts, this last was made with a complete lack of self-awareness. One of the graphics released utterly mischaracterizes Cruz’s position on amnesty for undocumented immigrants and appears to completely misunderstand the concept of an “anchor baby.”
Both Trump and Cruz made prime time television appearances Wednesday night, guaranteeing that voters who missed their daytime nonsense will have a second chance to see just how low the race for the presidency has sunk.