Iowa’s Republican Gov. Terry Branstad called for Ted Cruz’s defeat Tuesday, in a dramatic and highly public attack on the Texas senator. What makes this even more problematic for Cruz is that Branstad’s suggestion that Iowa voters by-pass the Texas senator comes just ten days out from the Iowa caucuses.
The big news came as the Iowa governor was speaking to a small group of reporters at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona, where several 2016 presidential candidates are slated to speak, Branstad labeled Cruz a “big oil” candidate whose victory would be “very damaging to our state.”
“It would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him,” Branstad said. “And I know he’s ahead in the polls but the only poll that counts is the one they take on caucus night and I think that could change between now and then.”
Asked by a reporter whether he wants to see Cruz defeated, Branstad answered: “Yes.”
As you might expect Sen. Cruz hit back at Iowa Gov. Branstad, accusing the governor of being part of a political establishment that thrives on deal-making.
“It is no surprise that the establishment is in full panic mode,” Cruz said. “As conservatives unite behind our campaign, we are going to see the Washington cartel firing every shot they can, every cannon they can, because the Washington cartel lives on cronyism. It lives on making deals.”
Cruz said he has seen a groundswell of grassroots support here and elsewhere.
“We will see like ‘The Empire Strikes back,’ the establishment will strike back because they don’t want an end to the cronyism and the gravy train from Washington,” he said.
With just 10 days remaining until the Iowa caucuses, four statewide polls have been released over the last 24 hours, which help cast the Republican race in a striking new light. The polls show that for the most part that Cruz lead has for the most part shrunk.
Loras College: (1) Donald Trump: 26%; (2) Ted Cruz: 25%; (3) Marco Rubio: 13%
Monmouth College/KBUR: (1) Ted Cruz: 27%; (2) Donald Trump: 25%; (3) Marco Rubio: 9%
CNN: (1) Donald Trump: 37%; (2) Ted Cruz: 26%; (3) Marco Rubio: 14%
Emerson College: (1) Donald Trump: 33%; (2) Ted Cruz: 23%; (3) Marco Rubio: 14%
Earlier this month, it appeared that Cruz had not only caught up to Trump in the Hawkeye State, but was actually in the driver’s seat. There were multiple reports that that the first presidential nominating contest was “Cruz’s to lose,” and now it clearly is up for grabs.