Cruz hits Trump on national security

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump can save Republicans and restore sanity to California in 2018 Cruz says Cambridge Analytica assured him its practices were legal Dem battling Cruz in Texas: ‘I can understand how people think this is crazy’ MORE (R-Texas) knocked Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse expected to vote on omnibus Thursday afternoon House passes 'right to try' drug bill Spending bill rejects Trump’s proposed EPA cut 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 PaulHouse poised to vote on .3T spending bill Overnight Finance: Lawmakers race to finalize omnibus | What we know about funding bill | White House on board | Fed raises rates for first time under Powell Senate passes controversial online sex trafficking bill 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.