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Cruz Surges, and Trump Goes on the Attack

Trump, left, and Cruz, center are heading in separate directions. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As new polls show Sen. Ted Cruz surging among Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus-goers, Donald Trump has gone on the attack against the Texas Republican, going so far as to call him a "maniac" on national television. The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll released Saturday showed Cruz with the support of 31 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers, with Trump at 21 percent and Ben Carson at 13 percent. The rest of the GOP field registered in single digits, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who came in at 9 percent. The telephone poll of 400 likely Republican caucus-goers was conducted Dec. 7-10 and has a 5-point error margin.  

The poll was enough to break a tenuous peace between Trump and Cruz, with the New York real estate mogul denouncing the poll at an Iowa event on Friday even before its release, and stepping up the offense on Sunday's political talk shows.  

On "Fox News Sunday," Trump laid into Cruz , telling host Chris Wallace that Cruz isn't "qualified" and doesn't have the "right temperament" to be president. "When you look at the way he's dealt with the Senate, where he goes in there like a -- you know, frankly, like a bit of a maniac.  You never get things done that way. ... You can't walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars and not be able to cajole and get along with people. He'll never get anything done.  And that's the problem with Ted," Trump said. The interview was taped Friday.  

It's not an uncommon assessment of Cruz and his relationships in the Capitol. Outside of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, he doesn't have many legislative allies, and he's gone out of his way to criticize Washington and its leaders, particularly in Congress, as a "cartel."  

Fox News Poll released Sunday also showed Cruz surging in Iowa's GOP caucus-goers, but without the clear lead over Trump. In a telephone survey of 450 Republicans who are likely to attend Iowa's caucuses, Cruz was the pick of 28 percent, with Trump at 26 percent and Rubio tracking in at third with 13 percent. Carson registered at 10 percent. The poll was conducted Dec. 7-10 and had a 4.5-point error margin.  

Trump's comments were a departure from the times when Cruz was far behind in polls and wasn't the clear and present danger to his campaign ahead of the Hawkeye State's Feb. 1 caucuses.  

Cruz and Trump were publicly friendly at a September rally at the Capitol when they both spoke out against the Iran nuclear deal. Cruz has gone out of his way to not directly challenge Trump, behavior that Trump mocked on Sunday's CNN's "State of the Union ."  

"He's been so nice to me. I mean, I can say anything, and he said, 'I agree, I agree,'" Trump told host Jake Tapper in an interview that aired on the program. "But I think the time will come to an end pretty soon, it sounds like." Trump used similar attacks in the CNN interview, questioning Cruz's judgement, temperament and likability with his Senate colleagues.  

"I'm more capable. Because I have a much better temperament. Because I actually get along with people much better than he does," he told Tapper.  

A request for comment from the Cruz campaign went unanswered.  

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Topics: republicans poli