Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is trying to use his stance on the issue of federal land ownership to put a dent in rival Donald Trump’s support in the Nevada caucus.
Cruz has a new ad out attacking Trump on federal land ownership, an important issue to voters in the state:
“Eight-five percent of Nevada is owned and regulated by the federal government, and Donald Trump wants to keep big government in charge,” Cruz says in the ad. “You, the people of Nevada, not Washington bureaucrats should be in charge of your own land.”
“If you trust me with your vote, I will fight day and night to return full control of Nevada’s lands to its rightful owners, its citizens,” Cruz says.
Cruz, who is currently in Nevada campaigning, is making a libertarian pitch in the state and using land ownership as his wedge issue against Trump. As Patrick Svitek of Texas Monthly puts it:
Cruz pressed the contrast while speaking with reporters before his rally in Pahrump, saying it “makes no sense” for the federal government to own so much land in Nevada. Flagging it as a disagreement with Trump, Cruz reiterated he wants to keep the land out of the hands of a federal government that “doesn’t share and doesn’t understand Nevada values.”
In an interview with Field and Stream in January, Trump was asked his thoughts on transferring federal land to states. Trump explained that he wouldn’t support it if he were 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. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land. And we have to be great stewards of this land. And the hunters do such a great job—I mean, the hunters and the fishermen and all of the different people that use that land. So I’ve been hearing more and more about that. And it’s just like the erosion of the Second Amendment. I mean, every day you hear Hillary Clinton wants to essentially wipe out the Second Amendment. We have to protect the Second Amendment, and we have to protect our lands.
According to the latest CNN poll, Trump currently has a 26-point lead in Nevada. Some insiders believe that Trump’s lead is too large and that Cruz’s fight in Nevada will be a fight for second place. Republican consultant Greg Ferraro told Patrick Svitek that, “Like in South Carolina, the same is true in Nevada: It’s a race for second place, not for first.”