Trump to Cruz: You Dodged a Question About Me Because ‘People Back Down with Trump’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said fellow candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz avoided answering a question about him because “people back down with Trump” during Saturday’s Republican presidential debate on ABC.

Cruz was asked, “Senator, you did say of Trump’s behavior this week, ‘That’s not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe.’ Why not?”

He responded, “Well, you know David, the assessment the voters are making here in New Hampshire and across the country, is they’re evaluating each and every one of us. They are looking to our experience. They’re looking to our knowledge. They’re looking to our temperament and judgment. They’re looking to our clarity of vision and our strength of resolve. The world is getting much more dangerous. We’ve had seven years with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, a commander-in-chief that is unwilling even to acknowledge the enemy we’re facing. This is a president who, in the wake of Paris, in the wake of San Bernardino, will not even use the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ much less focus on defeating the enemy. I am convinced, every individual standing on this stage would make a much better commander-in-chief than Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or [Democratic presidential candidate Senator] Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and the primary voters are making the assessment for each of us, who is best prepared to keep this country safe, to rebuild the military, to rebuild our Navy, our Air Force, our Army, our Marines, and to ensure that we keep America safe.”

After moderator David Muir followed up, “Senator Cruz, I did ask about Mr. Trump. You said he doesn’t have the temperament to be commander-in-chief. Do you stand by those words?” Cruz answered, “I think that is an assessment the voters are going to make, and they’re going to make it of each and every one of us. They are going to assess who is level-headed, who has clear vision, who has judgment, who can confront our enemies, who can confront the threats we face in this country, and who can have the judgment when to engage and when not to engage, both are incredibly important for a commander-in-chief, knowing how to go after our enemies. In the case of Iran, for example, who has the clarity of vision to understand that the Ayatollah Khomeini, when he chants ‘Death to America,’ he means it. We need a president with the judgment and resolve to keep this country safe from radical Islamic terrorists.”

Trump then said, “I respect what Ted just said, but if you noticed, he didn’t answer your question, and that’s what’s going to happen — it’s okay. That’s what’s going to happen with our enemies, and the people we compete against. We’re going to win with Trump. We’re going to win. We don’t win anymore. Our country doesn’t win anymore. We’re going to win with Trump. And people back down with Trump, and that’s what I like, and that’s what the country is going to like.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett