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"I think my record is stronger than his," Cruz said in an interview with ABC News’ Tom Llamas today. "I think my record is stronger than any other Republican candidate in the field."
Cruz and Trump are battling for two key early voting states -- New Hampshire and Iowa. In a mid-December Iowa poll, Cruz lagged Trump by only 1 percent. However, when asked whether Trump should view him as a threat, Cruz not only refused to engage, but called on Trump to stay silent as well.
"You'd have to ask [Trump] that,” Cruz said. “You know it's not surprising that a lot of the folks in the media would love to see Donald and I get in a big food fight and the person who would benefit the most by that is Hillary Clinton. And I'm certainly not going to engage in that and I hope Donald won't either."
In the past week, Cruz has made comments about Cruz’s faith and heritage and also said that his Canadian birthplace might put him in a “precarious” position if he were to be the GOP presidential nominee.
Cruz has chosen to not respond to Trump’s attacks save for a tweet of Fonzie jumping the shark on "Happy Days" regarding the mogul's attack on his "natural-born citizenship." While questions about if and when he will engage Trump’s attacks follow the Texas senator, he continues to hit the ground hard in Iowa as part of a six day, 28 stop bus tour.
Cruz has pledged to campaign in all 99 counties and told ABC News that he believes his campaign is seeing the “fruit of their hard work.” He told Llamas that, especially in Iowa, his has a been “grassroots campaign”—one where he’s spent “a lot of time” interacting with individual voters.
“One of the fantastic things about Iowa is that in this state, retail politics matters,” he said. “There’s an old joke in Iowa: 'Are you voting for so and so for President?' 'No, no I couldn’t possibly. I’ve only met him 5 times.'”
However, Cruz admitted that his months on trail have come at a cost: being away from his family.
“It’s the hardest part of the campaign,” he told Llamas. Cruz said he tries to bring his two young daughters, Caroline and Catherine, on the trail with him as much as possible. He video chats with them when he’s away. Nonetheless, there are moments that he inevitably misses.
“You don’t get that time back. There are a lot of things. Caroline’s piano recitals,” Cruz noted. “You miss a lot of moment in their lives.”
Despite the toll the campaign takes on them, Cruz said his daughters are one of the main reasons behind his White House run.
“I couldn’t look my daughters in the eyes if I had the ability…to bring America back, and I didn’t stop and lead” he said.