Iowa Governor Calls For Republicans To Defeat Ted Cruz — Is This Part Of Donald Trump’s Plan?

Out on the campaign trail, it’s getting tougher and tougher to be Ted Cruz. Sure, the senator from Texas has been climbing in the polls and gaining on GOP frontrunner Donald Trump over the past couple of months. But criticism of Ted Cruz is also on the rise. In fact, even as Trump pulls into a statistical dead heat with his billionaire rival in the key primary battleground of Iowa, Cruz is taking some huge hits from influential Republicans as of late, including a virtual “anti-endorsement” from the governor of that state.

According to CNN, Iowa’s Republican governor Terry Branstad took some major swipes at Ted Cruz while speaking to reporters at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on Wednesday.

“It would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him,” Branstad said of Cruz. “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.”

Governor Branstad, who also described Cruz as a “big oil” candidate who would be “very damaging” to Iowa, was also asked by a reporter if he wants Ted Cruz to be defeated, to which Branstad said, “Yes.”

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After the most recent Republican debate, Donald Trump told reportes that ‘the bromance is over’ when addressiung the state of his relationship with rival Ted Cruz. [Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Donald Trump, who has struggled to stay atop Iowa’s pre-caucus polls, jumped on the dog pile quickly, praising Branstad as “highly respected,” as noted by Politico.

“That was amazing actually,” Trump said of the Iowa Governor’s comments. “He’s a respected man and when he speaks people listen.”

Continuing on the theme of some of Trump’s recent ad hominem critiques of Ted Cruz, the real estate mogul also sarcastically described Branstad’s repudiation of Cruz as “a shocker,” adding that “nobody likes Ted.”

In providing some perspective on the current flap, CNN explained that Ted Cruz has historically been less than supportive of the ethanol and biodiesel industries that are important to Iowa’s economy. It is also worth noting that Governor Branstad’s son Eric is affiliated with a group called America’s Renewable Future, which has “targeted” Cruz over his positions on the aforementioned matters.

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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz helps to cook pork at the Iowa State Fair on August 21, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Cruz once used the hot barrel of a machine gun to cook bacon. [Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

With less than two weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses on February 1, the gap between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz has dwindled to a razor-thin margin. An aggregate of polling data compiled by Real Clear Politics indicates Trump is the present leader with 27.8 percent of the prospective vote and Cruz pulling in 26.7 percent. As the Iowa caucuses are the first primary election of the election cycle, the event is generally seen as something of a barometer with regard to the party conventions and nominations that will follow in the summer.

Despite his surge in Iowa, Ted Cruz is not enjoying as much support from voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina, which will hold their primaries in the weeks following the Iowa caucuses. Cruz is a distant second behind Trump in South Carolina, and he falls to fourth place in New Hampshire behind John Kasich and Marco Rubio.

On the national level, Cruz appears to be faltering in the eyes of some vociferous Republican stars, including the Palin family. According to a report by CBS News, Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol recently penned an essay urging her mother to endorse Donald Trump. Indeed, it is widely speculated that the former Alaska Governor will do just that in the days to come.

For his part, Cruz remains determined to forge ahead while mostly staying out of the cross-talk and jockeying of his fellow Republicans. Late Wednesday, as if to implicitly answer the criticism of Branstad and others, he retweeted a comment by a supporter that read, “The Republican establishment really doesn’t like Ted Cruz.”

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

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