Cruz: Trump won’t be GOP nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant More than 10,000 migrants await processing under bridge in Texas Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State MORE (R-Texas) reiterated at a town hall in Iowa on Monday that he doesn’t believe Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE will be the Republican presidential nominee, as the rising Texan moves against the GOP front-runner he was once loathe to criticize.

The Huffington Post reports:

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Cruz has repeatedly declined to criticize Trump, acknowledging that he’s going after the same primary voters who have been energized by Trump’s outsider bid.

"I think, in time, I don't believe Donald is going to be the nominee and I think, in time, the lion's share of his supporters end up with us," Cruz said in October.

At the Monday event, The Texas Tribune reports, Cruz said the media would like to see a “cage match” between the two, but that he has “consistently declined daily invitations” to go after Trump.

Still, there are signs that Cruz is preparing to make his move against Trump with only two months to go before the Iowa caucuses.

Last week, Cruz split with Trump after the real estate mogul openly mulled a national registry for American Muslims.

“I'm a big fan of Donald Trump's but I'm not a fan of government registries of American citizens,” Cruz said in Iowa, according to Politico. “The First Amendment protects religious liberty, I've spent the past several decades defending religious liberty.”

And on immigration, Cruz told The Associated Press earlier this month that “tone matters” and that "there are some in the Republican Party whose rhetoric is unhelpful with regard to immigration.” 

Cruz did not mention Trump specifically in that interview, but said again that he doesn’t believe Trump or retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson will be the party’s nominee.

BuzzFeed on Monday flagged an interview with a Texas radio host from a couple of weeks ago in which Trump said he and Cruz have a “good relationship.” However, Trump also sought to diminish Cruz by saying that he “backs virtually everything that I said.”

“He’s a good man,” Trump said. “He’s a conservative guy. He’s doing pretty well. He’s doing pretty well. Fortunately, he’s not doing as well as I am, but these are minor details. He’s doing pretty well and he’s said wonderful things about me and he actually backs anything I do, because we have similar views. 

“He’s not doing this out of a weakness, he’s doing this out of a strength,” Trump continued. “He backs virtually everything that I said — wouldn’t you say? I mean, virtually everything that I’ve said he’s backed.” 

The jockeying comes as Cruz has been on a steady upward trajectory in the polls. 

He has surged into third place in Iowa, cutting into Carson’s lead among Evangelicals in the state, and moving into third place at 18.3 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average.