Trump strikes back at Cruz as Bush gets key endorsement

Sergio Bustos
Associated Press

North Charleston, S.C. – — With two weeks to go until Iowans head to the polls in the first vote of the 2016 primary season, Republican front-runner Donald Trump ramped up his attacks against rival Ted Cruz on Friday, while Jeb Bush scored a key endorsement for his White House bid.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham announced he is backing Jeb Bush for the Republican presidential nomination, praising the ex-Florida governor’s approach to national security.

As South Carolina’s senior senator, Graham has been a coveted endorsement for some candidates running for the Republican nomination because he holds clout among establishment Republicans in South Carolina, one of the critical early voting primary states.

Meanwhile, Trump went on the offensive Friday, calling Cruz “strident” and labeling his remarks about “New York values” in the GOP debate “disgraceful.”

Appearing in an extended interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe from Des Moines, Iowa, Trump said Cruz “hurt himself” in Thursday’s debate with his sweeping remarks about the political ideologies of New Yorkers.

Cruz said in the debate: “Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro- gay-marriage, focus around money and the media.”

At the debate, Trump countered with an emotional recounting of his hometown’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

“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,” he said. “That was a very insulting statement that Ted made.”

In Iowa, Trump released his second television ad on Friday.

‘Birther’ suit filed

A veteran attorney in Ted Cruz’s hometown of Houston has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Canadian-born senator’s eligibility to be president.

In a 28-page complaint Thursday, Newton Schwartz asked the Supreme Court to decide if Cruz’s birth to an American mother and Cuban father while they lived in Calgary violates the Constitution’s “natural born citizen” requirement.