Cruz hits Trump over federal land ownership in Nevada

Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE is telling Nevada voters he will “return full control of Nevada’s lands to” its citizens if elected president — something he says Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE won’t do. 

In an ad hitting airwaves in the state, Cruz decries the fact that 85 percent of land in Nevada is owned by the federal government. He says as president he would “fight day and night” to turn that land over to the state instead. 

“You, the people of Nevada, not Washington bureaucrats, should be in charge of your own land,” Cruz says in the ad. 

He also hits GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who he says “wants to keep big government in charge.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Cruz adds.

The ad comes ahead of the Feb. 23rd Nevada Republican caucuses A recent poll showed Trump up big in the state, with Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' MORE in second and Cruz in third.

Cruz’s ad looks to tap into conservative angst over public land ownership, which has turned into a major issue for some conservatives in Western states, where the federal government has large holdings of land. Restoring state and local land ownership was a leading demand for the self-styled militia group that recently captured and held a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. 

During a CNN town hall with GOP candidates Thursday night, Trump used Cruz’s ad as an example of Cruz “mak[ing] up stories” to hit him.

For his part, Trump told Field and Stream Magazine in January that he would not let states take control of federal land if he’s elected president.

"I don't like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don't know what the state is going to do," Trump said.

In an op-ed in the Reno Gazette-Journal later that month, Trump called federal land ownership in Nevada “arbitrary and capricious” and said President Obama “encourages faceless, nameless bureaucrats” to manage public land holdings. 

“The only way to change these circumstances is to bring to Washington a president who will rein in the federal government and get Congress to do its job,” he wrote.