Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRisks of accidental nuclear war with North Korea must be accounted for Police cheer Trump after jab at mayors who don't let them do their jobs NYPD will not attend Trump speech on MS-13 gang in Long Island MORE pushed back on rival presidential candidate Ted CruzTed CruzFive takeaways from ObamaCare repeal’s collapse Conservative House leader urges GOP to not give up on ObamaCare repeal Cruz: Many Americans feel betrayed by failure to repeal ObamaCare MORE's "New York values" attack in an emotional moment during Thursday night's debate.

"That was a very insulting statement that Ted made," Trump said on the stage in North Charleston, S.C. "I've had more calls on that statement that Ted made."

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"New York is a great place. It's got great people. It's got loving people," Trump continued.

Adopting a soft tone, the real estate mogul talked about how his home city responded to the 9/11 terrorist 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," Trump said to applause, including from Cruz.

“You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down, I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the clean-up started the next day.”

"People in New York fought and fought and fought," Trump said, adding that "the smell of death ... was with us for months."

"Everybody in the world watched, and everybody in the world loved New Yorkers," he added.

On Tuesday, Cruz knocked Trump for embodying “New York values” as the two GOP hopefuls battle for supremacy in Iowa, site of the nation's first nominating contest.

During the debate, Cruz defended his remarks, saying that people in New York support "socially liberal" values.

"There are many, many wonderful working men and women in the state of New York," Cruz said.

"But everyone understands that values in New York City are socially liberal," he continued, adding that they support abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

“The concept of New York values is not that complicated to figure out," Cruz said. "I can frame it another way: Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan, I’m just saying.”