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Bob Dole: A Ted Cruz nomination would be ‘cataclysmic’ for the GOP

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Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole is warning GOP voters that putting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at the top of the ticket would be “cataclysmic” for the party.

“If he’s the nominee, we’re going to have wholesale losses in Congress and state offices and governors and legislatures,” Dole, who served in the House and Senate for 35 years and won the Iowa caucuses twice, told the New York Times.

The 92-year-old former Kansas senator, who was defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1996 presidential election, said he questions Cruz’s allegiance to the Republican Party and his ability to work with Congress.

“I don’t know how often you’ve heard him say the word ‘Republican’ — not very often,” Dole said, adding, “I don’t know how he’s going to deal with Congress. Nobody likes him.”

Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the Cruz campaign, called Dole’s comments part of the “same flawed narrative the Washington establishment has unsuccessfully pushed for years.”

“Running to the middle and nominating a moderate who will continue to bank the payroll of the Washington cartel is a losing strategy,” Frazier said.

It’s not the first time Dole has expressed his disdain for Cruz. In December, he was asked by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell if he would support the Texas senator against the Democratic nominee in a general election.

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Bob Dole: Not a Ted Cruz fan. (Photos: John Minchillo/Carolyn Kaster/AP)

“I might oversleep that day,” Dole said. “‘Cause [Cruz] used to make these speeches. ‘Remember President Dole? Do you remember President McCain?’ The inference was that we were all a bunch of liberals, and only he is a true conservative.”

And in November, while endorsing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, Dole said, “I think [Jeb’s] the most qualified and we need somebody with experience, and there are a lot of good candidates — I like nearly all of them. Except Cruz.”

On Wednesday, Dole said he’d prefer anyone to Cruz — including Donald Trump.

“He has toned down his rhetoric,” Dole said.

Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, another member of the GOP establishment, told an Atlantic reporter he’d take Trump over Cruz.

Earlier this month, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has frequently clashed with Cruz on Capitol Hill, said questions regarding Cruz’s eligibility for the presidency given his Canadian birth — an issue Trump has raised on the trail — were legitimate.

Dole’s latest denunciation of Cruz came a day after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, urged Iowa caucus-goers not to vote for the Texas senator.

“It would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him,” Branstad said. “And I know he’s ahead in the polls, but the only poll that counts is the one they take on caucus night, and I think that could change between now and then.”

The governor called Cruz a “big oil” candidate whose opposition to federal ethanol mandates would be “very damaging to our state” if he wound up in the White House.

Branstad said he doesn’t plan on endorsing any candidate ahead of the Feb. 1 caucuses. But asked by a reporter if he’d like to see Cruz defeated, Branstad offered a one-word reply: “Yes.”

Bush, meanwhile, is warning GOP voters that a Trump nomination would be just as disastrous.

An online ad released by the Bush campaign Wednesday depicts an apocalyptic future where the brash billionaire concedes the 2016 presidential election to Hillary Clinton via his favorite mode of communication: Twitter.

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