Candidates make their final pitches before Iowa caucuses

Dylan Stableford
·Senior Writer

A day before the Iowa caucuses, presidential candidates hit the Sunday morning political talk shows to make their final pitches before the first votes of the 2016 election cycle are cast.

On ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said his experience as a real estate mogul makes him qualified to be commander in chief.

“Frankly, when I was in business, I got along with Democrats, I got along with liberals, I got along with conservatives and Republicans,” Trump said. “I happen to have a conservative way of thought. I happen to be a Republican. But when you’re a businessman, you have to get along with everybody. You can’t just say, I’m going to get along with this small group, because you won’t be able to function that way.”

Trump called his closest GOP rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a “nasty guy.”

“Ted is a liar,” Trump said. “This is why nobody likes him. This is why he doesn’t have one endorsement from one senator. Not one.”

The former “Celebrity Apprentice” host dismissed Cruz’s assertion that a vote for Trump is a vote for Obamacare.

“I have a heart. I want people taken care of. If people have no money, we have to help people, but that doesn’t mean single payer,“ Trump said. “And I mean, maybe he’s got no heart. And if this means I lose an election, that’s fine, because, frankly, we have to take care of the people in our country. We can’t let them die on the sidewalks of New York or the sidewalks of Iowa or anywhere else.”

Also on “This Week,” Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton compared the fresh controversy surrounding her emails to the one surrounding her response to the attacks in Benghazi.

“This is very much like Benghazi,” Clinton said. “The Republicans are going to continue to use it, beat up on me. I understand that. That’s the way they are. But after 11 hours of testimony, answering every single question, in public, which I have requested for many months, I think it’s pretty clear they’re grasping at straws, and this will turn out the same way.”

On Friday, the State Department refused to release 22 emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state because they contained “top secret” information. Clinton said the email chain in question contains no classified information and wants to see it released.

“Let’s just get it out,” Clinton said. “Let’s see what it is and let the American people draw their own conclusions.”

Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he’s best positioned to defeat the Republican nominee in a general election despite carrying the democratic socialist label.

“Will they throw the kitchen sink at me? They sure will,” he said. “[But] we’ve got a lot to throw at them.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sanders suggested a Clinton nomination would hurt the Democratic Party in House and Senate races.

“Hillary Clinton will be the problem,” Sanders said. “Because I think our campaign is the campaign that is generating excitement and energy that will result in a high voter turnout. Republicans win when voter turnout is low. Democrats win when voter turnout is high.”

The Vermont senator, who trails Clinton by three points among Democratic caucusgoers in the latest Des Moines Register poll, downplayed the importance of winning Iowa.

“There’s no question, you know, that what happens here is very, very important. And if we can win and pull off a major upset, it will really be a springboard, I think, to other states,” Sanders said. “But at the end of the day, I think in terms of the division of delegates, whether you win by two points or you lose by two points, it’s not going to matter a whole lot.”

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio attacked Cruz, accusing the Texas senator of flip-flopping on immigration and pandering to Iowa conservatives.

“When he was in the Senate, he talked about wanting to pass immigration reform, about bringing people out of the shadows, et cetera,” Rubio said. “He’s not what he portrays himself to be.”

“The lie is that Ted continues to try to portray himself as the only conservative in the race,” Rubio continued. “He goes to New York and raises millions of dollars and then goes to the rest of the country and attacks New York values. These are the things that over time people start to realize that there’s a real calculation here politically. And it just catches up with you.”

Rubio added: “In the end, this election is in God’s hands, as everything is. And so we’re going to do our very best. And we’re confident about where that leads.”

On “Fox News Sunday,” Cruz suggested Trump is not a real conservative.

“He’s the height of chutzpah,” Cruz said. “It’s astonishing. He’s not honest.”

Trump, for his part, again raised the issue of Cruz’s Canadian birth.

“He didn’t even know he was a citizen of Canada until 15 months ago?” Trump said. “Give me a break.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Cruz criticized Rubio’s support of a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants — and the Florida senator’s refusal to immediately rescind President Barack Obama’s executive action immigration.

“A vote for Marco is a vote for amnesty,” Cruz said. “And I will tell you this. If we nominate a candidate who supports amnesty, who has the same position on amnesty as Hillary Clinton, we will lose.”

Cruz told “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper he doesn’t think Trump’s boycott of last week’s Fox News GOP debate was really about the Republican frontrunner’s ongoing dispute with moderator Megyn Kelly.

“I don’t think it was because he was afraid of Megyn Kelly,” Cruz said. “I think it was because Donald did not want his record challenged. It’s the same reason, actually, that Donald engages in insults, because he can’t defend his substantive record.”

“This is a job interview,” Cruz added. “If I was interviewing with you, and I called you up and said, ‘I’m not willing to show up at the job interview,’ you wouldn’t hire me. And I think that’s what Donald said to the people of Iowa, that he wasn’t willing to submit to the scrutiny.”

But Cruz, who trails Trump by five points in the latest Des Moines Register poll, also downplayed the importance of winning the Iowa caucuses.

“We don’t view any state as a must-win,” he said. “I think we’re positioned to do very well in Iowa. I think we have worked very hard. … We will have been to all 99 counties in the state of Iowa. We will have stood in front of the men and women of Iowa and simply asked for their support, looked them in the eyes and asked for their support. I think that’s what it takes to win Iowa, but we’re going to find out tomorrow night.”