Following his win in Wisconsin Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz moved his campaigning to Donald Trump’s home state, New York, and seems ready to pounce on the real estate mogul’s business record in the Empire State.
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In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Cruz depicted his Wisconsin victory as a turning point that gives him momentum in states to come. New York is the next state up in the ongoing hunt to reach 1,237 delegates and secure the GOP nomination.
“The victory in Wisconsin was across the board,” Cruz said. "It was a 13-point victory and you know, three weeks ago, we were behind by 10 points in Wisconsin.”
Stephanopoulos caught up with Cruz at Sabrosura 2, a restaurant in the Bronx, where Cruz was meeting with Hispanic and African-American pastors and faith leaders. As the race pivots to New York, Trump’s home turf, Cruz is not backing down from controversial remarks he has made about “New York values.”
In January, Cruz first used the term "New York values" as a way to lob an insult at Trump. Cruz attempted to clarify his definition of the term.
"Let me be very clear. The people that I was talking about are the liberal New York Democrats who have hammered this state. It is people like Mayor Bill de Blasio. It is people like Governor Cuomo,” Cruz told Stephanopoulos.
Cruz argued that the Hispanic and African-American pastors with whom was meeting agreed with his statements about New York values.
The Texas senator seems ready to take his attack on Trump’s values to an attack on the real estate mogul’s business record.
"Republicans, we want to win,” Cruz said. “We want to beat Hillary. The last thing we want is to nominate someone like Donald Trump, who, over and over again, has allegations of fraud against him, has litigation. Last thing we want is to nominate someone who's going to be on the witness stand in October and November as much as Hillary Clinton.”
Cruz referenced Trump University, a shuttered business venture for Trump that has been the source of a class-action lawsuit.
“The Trump University litigation that he defrauded thousands of people with a fake university, took their money, scammed them, that's scheduled to go to trial this summer,” Cruz said.
Trump has said he’ll win a lawsuit filed against Trump University and defended the venture last month.
"It was a very nice thing, Trump said on March 8. “We are putting it on hold. If I become president that means Ivanka, Don, Eric and my family will start up and we have a lot of great people who want to get back into Trump University. It's going to do well and continue to do very well.”
While Cruz seems prepared for a fight with Trump, he is also facing attacks from New Yorkers not eager to welcome him. His campaign stop in the Bronx was interrupted Wednesday by two protesters who called him a “right-wing bigot” who didn’t belong in the Bronx. The protesters depicted the Bronx as an immigrant community and hit Cruz for his stance on illegal immigration.
But Cruz stood his ground. “Look, there was one loud-mouth protester,” he said. “I mean, in the city of New York, you can find one loud-mouth protester.”
Cruz didn’t back down from his record on immigration, either, telling Stephanopoulos that “we are a nation of laws.”
Cruz thinks that his economic message can overcome those questioning his immigration record in places like the Bronx where there are large Hispanic communities.
"Number one, we're in a small business. We're in a restaurant,” he said of Wednesday’s venue. “And my focus is very much on small businesses because economic opportunity, jobs, come from small businesses.
“Number two, this was a meeting of pastors, of Hispanic pastors, of African-American pastors, here in the Bronx; we are building a broad and diverse coalition.”