Cruz: Trump Is ‘Encouraging People to Violence’ by Telling His Supporters to ‘Punch That Guy in the Face’

Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” while discussing the recent protests and violence at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rallies, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Trump was “encouraging people to violence” and pointed to an instance where he said to “punch that guy in the face” as his proof.

Partial transcript as follows:

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve seen these extraordinary scenes at the Trump rallies. And — and you’ve said that the Trump campaign affirmatively encourages the violence. So to be clear, you believe Mr. Trump is encouraging this violence?

CRUZ: Well, let’s be clear. First of all, the protesters were in the wrong. When you come up and — and you use violence, you engage in violence, you threaten violence, and when you try to shut — shut down and shout down speech, that — that’s not what the First Amendment allows. The First Amendment gives every one of us the right to speak, but not to disrupt others. Uh, but — but I think, also, in any campaign, the responsibility starts at the top. And — and it is not beneficial when you have a candidate like — like Donald Trump, who’s telling his protesters, punch that guy in the face. You know, I mean I don’t think you should be encouraging people to violence.

And — and I think beyond that, you know, we need a — a candidate who respects the people, who engages even — who even engages the protesters with civility and respect, not with hostility. I — I think — you know, what I would appeal to for every candidate is — is decency and civility, that we can disagree and we can disagree forcefully while still respecting each other and — and not engaging in insults and vulgarity and — and not encouraging — encouraging violence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He — he says this was being pre-planned and organized by his opponents. But do you believe this might be a conscious strategy on his part to drive out his vote?

CRUZ: Well, listen, I — I don’t know if it’s his strategy or not. I — I do know that his approach to every issue is — is simply to use angry rhetoric, um, often to engage in insults, often to — to curse and yell. And — and that’s not a productive solution. Listen, we’re all frustrated. We’re angry. I understand that people that are voting for Donald Trump, that they’re angry with Washington, they’re angry with politicians who’ve lied to us. I’m angry, too. But Donald has been enmeshed in that Washington corruption for 40 years. And if you want to fix it, listen, all of us are frustrated at the failures of the Obama-Clinton economy, about the fact that jobs are going overseas to China and Mexico, that wages are stagnating. But we need a president who actually understands the way to fix it. And the way to fix it is small businesses, is unleashing small businesses through repealing ObamaCare, through passing a flat tax, through lifting regulations. Donald doesn’t focus on small business. He focuses on Washington and dealmaking and Big Business. Donald Trump is the system. He is Washington and he’s part of the problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Both Marco Rubio and John Kasich have said what they’re seeing right now is making it more difficult for them to support Mr. Trump if he’s the nominee. Is it making it more difficult for you?

CRUZ: Well, listen, the approach that Donald — and I think if Donald Trump is the nominee, I think it is a disaster. I think it’s a disaster for Republican, for conservatives; I think it’s a disaster for the country and because if Donald is the nominee, it makes it much, much more likely that Hillary Clinton wins the general. And I’ll tell you, 65-70 percent of Republicans understand that, that Donald is a disaster in the general election. And the answer is not to cry in your beer about it. The answer is not what the Washington establishment is doing, which is trying to come up with some magical plan to have a brokered convention and parachute in some establishment candidate. That would be a complete disaster. You’d have a revolt. If you want to beat Donald Trump, the answer is to beat him at the ballot box. And that’s what we are doing. Our campaign is the only campaign now that has beaten him not once, not twice, not three times but eight different times, all over the country, literally from Alaska to Maine and everywhere in between. We are beating Donald Trump. And, George, what we’re seeing is we’re seeing Republicans uniting behind our campaign because we are the only candidate that is in a position to beat Donald Trump, to earn 1,237 delegates and become the Republican nominee —


STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you believe —

CRUZ: — and we’re seeing Republicans unite.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you believe you can beat him but I have to press this a little bit, If you believe that Donald Trump and his campaign are urging violence, how could support him if he’s the nominee? Isn’t that a line that should not be condoned, crossing that line? Shouldn’t that not be condoned?

CRUZ: It is — and I’m not condoning it. I am encouraging everyone to focus on decency and civility and appealing to our better angels. But my focus is on winning, on winning the nomination, then on beating Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders because let me be clear, Hillary Clinton would be a disaster for this country.  If Hillary Clinton is the president, we will lose the Supreme Court for a generation, the Second Amendment will effectively be erased from the Bill of Rights, religious liberty will be lost for a generation and our kids will be drowned in debt, will stay in this stagnation, jobs will keep fleeing America. I don’t want to see my children’s future taken away by Hillary Clinton becoming president. And the way to prevent that is for Republicans to continue uniting behind our campaign. You know, this week I was honored to be endorsed by Carly Fiorina, also by Mark Levin (ph). It has been incredible. We have been saying — and by “National Review” — we are seeing conservatives across the spectrum uniting behind our campaign. And as that continues to happen, I believe we’re on a path to beating Donald Trump as we’ve been doing over and over.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve also said that — you just said that a brokered convention would lead to revolt.So does that mean that you accept Mr. Trump’s standard, that whoever has the lead in delegates going into the convention, should be the nominee?

CRUZ: Listen, there is a difference between a brokered convention and a contested convention. A brokered convention is there’s a deadlock and the Washington dealmakers come in and pick their favorite candidate, who wasn’t even part of the mix. That would be an absolute disaster and it would cause the voters quite rightly to revolt.There’s a difference with a contested convention, where you have two candidates who come in, who are neck-and-neck, we saw this in 1976 with Reagan and Ford, and the delegates decide. The delegates decide using the rules of the RNC, they vote.


CRUZ: Look, if Donald and I both go into the convention and we’ve both got a big chunk of delegates but both of us are shy of 1,237 then the delegates will decide. That’s how the process works. And that’s allowing democracy to operate. That’s allowing the voters to decide. But let me be clear, George. The best approach is get to 1,237 before the convention and if you look at the delegates right now, we have 362. Donald has 99 more than we do. Everyone is way, way, way below. And so what I would say to folks at home, even if he started this campaign supporting somebody else, even if right now, you’re thinking of supporting perhaps Marco Rubio or John Kasich, they’re both good, honorable, decent men. I like and respect both of them. But neither one of them have any possibility of beating Donald Trump. It’s mathematically impossible. And so I would say if you’re thinking of supporting one of them, we would welcome you to our team. If you don’t want to see Donald Trump as the nominee, if you don’t want to see Hillary Clinton as the president, then come join us and we are seeing millions of Republicans uniting and doing just that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Cruz, thanks for joining us this morning.

CRUZ: Thank you, George. God bless.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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