Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump sparred over remarks Cruz made about Trump’s New York City roots during the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate in South Carolina on Thursday evening.
Cruz suggested Trump may have “socially liberal” values because he is a New Yorker. Trump responded by calling Cruz’s comments “insulting.”
Trump’s ties to the city first came up on Tuesday when Cruz was asked in an interview about the fact that Trump has played Bruce Springsteen’s song “Born in the USA” at recent rallies. The song choice was widely seen as an effort to mock Cruz, since Trump has been raising the question of whether the fact that Cruz was born in Canada could affect his eligibility to become president. In that interview, Cruz said Frank Sinatra’s song “New York, New York” might be a more appropriate anthem, because Trump “comes from New York, and he embodies New York values.”
Cruz elaborated on this when moderator Maria Bartiromo asked him about the comment at the debate.
“I think most people know exactly what New York values are,” Cruz said.
“I am from New York. I don’t,” Bartiromo responded.
Cruz went on to explain. “Listen, there are many, many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York, but everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, are pro-abortion, are pro-gay marriage, focus around money and the media,” he said.
Cruz further claimed that “the concept of New York values is not that complicated,” citing an interview Trump did with NBC’s Tim Russert in 1999. In that conversation, Trump said that he did not oppose gays entering the military and characterized himself as “very pro-choice.”
“I mean, hey, I lived in New York City and Manhattan all my life, OK? So, my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa, perhaps,” Trump told Russert.
Cruz said this interview showed that Trump attributed his values to his New York roots.
“He explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different than the views he’s describing now,” Cruz said of the interview. “That was his explanation, and I guess I can frame it another way: Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I’m just saying.”
Trump immediately challenged Cruz’s statements.
“So conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan — including William F. Buckley and others,” Trump said, adding, “Just so you understand.”
Trump said Cruz’s comments had “insulted a lot of people.”
“New York is a great place. It’s got great people. It’s got loving people, wonderful people. When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. … You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed. And the cleanup started the next day. And it was the most horrific cleanup, probably, in the history of doing this construction,” Trump said.
Trump concluded with a dramatic description of the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“I was down there, and I’ve never seen anything like it. And the people of New York fought and fought. And we saw more death and even the smell of death. Nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air,” said Trump. “We rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched, and everybody in the world loved New York, and loved New Yorkers. … I have to tell you, it was a very insulting statement that Ted made.”