MARION, Indiana — It was democracy in action Monday afternoon when Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz crossed the street following a retail stop to address a handful of protesters wielding Donald Trump signs shouting “Lyin’ Ted” as he greeted voters.
The lawyer-turned-senator walked over to the group across from The Mill Restaurant in Marion, Indiana, and personally debated one of the protesters, a middle-aged man in a hooded sweatshirt with a red goatee.
“I personally ask you to reconsider your position to keep running. You’ve been mathematically eliminated, you’re not gonna be able to seal the nomination,” the man, who would not identify himself, said to Cruz.
Cruz went toe-to-toe with the man for about seven minutes — one of the longest confrontations he’s had on the campaign trail with a single voter — as a crowd of supporters, reporters and a few protesters gathered around. The senator asked the man to name one thing that he liked about Trump.
When the man named “the wall,” Cruz said: “Hold on. He told the New York Times editorial board he’s not going to build the wall or deport anyone.”
“Lyin’ Ted!” the man shouted in his face.
“Civilized people don’t yell,” Cruz responded. “Sir, with all respect, Trump is deceiving you. He is playing you for a chump. Ask yourself two questions: Why is it that the mainstream media wants Donald Trump to be the nominee? And why is that John Boehner supports Donald Trump?”
When the man asked Cruz about the Second Amendment, Cruz drew contrasts with Trump.
“I have defended the Second Amendment in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. Do you know that Donald Trump supported the Clinton ban on firearms? And that is a fact,” Cruz said. “He said, ‘I hate guns.’ That is a quote from Trump.’ ”
And Cruz touted his willingness to debate with the man, hitting Trump’s suggestion that he’d pay a supporter’s legal fees for punching a protester in the face this February.
“Donald Trump is a New York liberal who will take away your Second Amendment rights. This man is lying to you. And he’s taking advantage of you,” Cruz said. “And I would encourage you, sir, look I appreciate your being out here speaking. If I were Donald Trump, I wouldn’t have come over and talked to you. I wouldn’t have shown you that respect. In fact, you know what I would’ve done, I would’ve told the folks over there, go over and punch those guys in the face. That’s what Donald does to protesters.”