Cruz hits Trump on national security

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTexas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request Dem rep: Trump disaster aid request is 'how you let America down again' Moore endorsements disappear from campaign website MORE (R-Texas) knocked Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump Right way and wrong way Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy MORE on Tuesday saying he's better prepared to handle national security threats than the Republican presidential frontrunner.

"It is certainly relevant does a commander in chief understand who our enemy is, radical Islamic terrorism, understand how to defeat it not just based on what's said on Sunday shows on TV, but actually understanding the nature of the threat," Cruz said during an interview with Hugh Hewitt.

The Texas Republican's comments were in response to a question on about understanding of the nuclear triad—the bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles capable of delivering nuclear payloads—and whether that knowledge would give him "daylight" from Trump and allow him to pick up votes. 

Cruz added that the issue is "certainly relevant to voters—does a potential commander in chief know what the nuclear triad is, much less is he or she prepared and able to strengthen it." 

Trump received criticism, and in some cases mockery, after he appeared to be stumped by a question about what parts of the the nuclear triad he would prioritize

"I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me," he said during last month's presidential debate. 

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress must end American support for Saudi war in Yemen Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for same crimes: study Sarah Palin on sexual harassment: 'People know I'm probably packing' so they 'don't mess with me' MORE (R-Ky.), who like Cruz is competing with Trump for the Republican nomination, said that the businessman "had no clue what the nuclear triad is."

Cruz, for his part, added on Tuesday that of the three legs of the triad, "the most important is our subs." 

The comments come as Cruz has been targeted by Trump in recent weeks as the businessman has aimed to stir the pot on if Cruz is eligible to run for president. The Texas Republican, who was born in Canada, has dismissed the speculation.

While Cruz has often been reluctant to directly take on Trump, the two have been circling each other as they compete for Republican primary voters.