Thursday, February 18, 2016

Good morning everyone! Happy Thursday to you!

Joining today's show are Mike Barnicle, Mark Halperin, Sam Stein, Hallie Jackson, Jim VandeHei, Donald Trump, Chris Jansing, Joe Klein, Matt Moore, David Brock, Sara Eisen, Gov. John Kasich and in Taiji, Japan today, the last boat has returned to the harbor. Happy 7th in a row Blue Cove Day! 2016-18-2 10:30am ‪#‎dolphinproject‬ ‪#‎tweet4dolphins‬
There are many new polls out today. They all seem to be the same numbers wise for the most part. However, there is one National Poll (NBC.WSJ) that has Ted Cruz in the lead ahead of Donald Trump. Granted, that Cruz could have picked up people that would have voted for Santorum, Huckabee, Walker and Paul since they dropped out, but I find it very odd that one poll is one way, and all of the other ones are a complete other way showing Trump well ahead of the pack. Trump is up by 20 points in every poll but this new one that Ted Cruz is now announcing as the end all be one. Man, I cannot stand Ted Cruz. I cannot even stand his face. I cannot stand anything he says. Nothing about that guy is real.
It is most likely now a three person race because Marco Rubio got a huge endorsement by Nikki Haley. It is a big deal because she is a rising star number one and number two everyone wanted her endorsement.
Overall, the interview and Q&A with Donald Trump and Mika ad Joe was great. Trump did not answer one question without any generality. Like I have said so many times and like everyone says about him, he just says that he is going to do something. He says its the best decision ever since the history of man kind and never says how he will do it. But, I guess he says it with confidence and so it comes down to whether people will believe him or not. None of his supporters care about specifics. I personally think his strength is how well he can bullshit everyone. He just spews off catch words no matter how contradicting and no matter what is real or not.
Speaking of believing in an candidate and being real, Chris Mathews did a great interview with great substance with John Kasich.
And, all I can say about the Dem's is that Hillary Clinton is holding an event in Texas night of Nevada caucus. I get that Nevada Caucus is held during the day, but man has this campaign has underestimated this primary race. I assume the event in Texas will be paying her a lot of money. 
Trump Dominates in Bloomberg Poll Before South Carolina Primary. A Bloomberg Politics poll shows the billionaire leading the field across virtually all demographic groups just days before the nation's third nominating contest. Donald Trump holds a 19-point lead over Ted Cruz among those likely to vote in Saturday's South Carolina Republican primary, with Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush locked in a close race for third and John Kasich showing no signs of a surge.
A Bloomberg Politics poll shows the billionaire dominating the field across virtually all demographic groups, and doing even better than Cruz among those who say they are either very conservative or evangelical Christian. On nearly every question about challenges faced by the next president, Trump scores the highest.
The real estate mogul is gathering broad support in the first state to vote in the manners-conscious South despite striking discordant notes with a majority of likely voters, who agree that he's used language that's crass, un-presidential, and reflecting bad manners and taste.
“From the size of the lead and the nearness of voting day, it is easy to say this is Trump’s election to lose,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “While his linguistic choices turn off a majority of voters, he speaks for the people who want radical change in Washington. South Carolina may just be ready to forgive bad manners in exchange for what they see as a strong leader.”
Trump leads the field with support from 36 percent of likely voters, followed by Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, at 17 percent. Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, is at 15 percent, closely followed by Bush, a former Florida governor, at 13 percent. Stuck at the bottom are retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 9 percent and Kasich, the Ohio governor, at 7 percent.
Rubio could get a boost from the endorsement of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who has been critical of Trump's hardline immigration rhetoric. She's viewed positively by 68 percent of those surveyed, the highest of any Republican politician tested in the poll. Trump did not appear to be hurt by a highly combative South Carolina debate performance Saturday, with his level of support staying between 30 percent and 40 percent on each of four nights of polling, with highest scores coming on Sunday and Tuesday nights.
In keeping with the state’s tradition of not deciding on a candidate until the final days of a campaign, 43 percent of South Carolina primary voters say either they haven't made up their minds or they could be persuaded to support someone other than their first choice. But supporters of Trump (63 percent) and Cruz (68 percent) have already locked their choice in larger proportions than the average for candidates in the race (56 percent).
Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, likely primary voters were asked about the best approach to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Fifty-four percent said the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate shouldn't hold hearings on any nominee, while 42 percent wanted hearings and votes on anyone put forward by President Barack Obama. Women are more likely than men to oppose hearings, 61 percent to 46 percent.
How the U.S. Elects Its Presidents
Among self-described mainstream Republicans—the largest share of the electorate—Trump has the most support at 38 percent, followed by Bush at 20 percent, Rubio at 14 percent, Kasich at 12 percent and Cruz at 11 percent.
Trump leads among men (38 percent to 15 percent) and women (33 percent to 18 percent), as well as those who have less than a college degree (46 percent to 14 percent) and those who do have one (28 percent to 18 percent).
Trump scores the highest on nearly all questions seeking to gauge presidential qualities. Respondents say he is the candidate who would be most feared by America’s enemies (57 percent); take on the Washington establishment (51 percent); win November's general election (43 percent); bring about needed change (43 percent); have the right approach to illegal immigration (41 percent); be the strongest leader (41 percent); keep families safe (39 percent); and appoint the best Supreme Court justices (24 percent).
Trump also holds a big lead among those who say the system is rigged, 48 percent to 15 percent over Cruz. And the front-runner’s tough talk on trade may be helping him with likely primary voters, with 50 percent saying that trade agreements like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership hurt job prospects in their state, while only 20 percent say it helps.
More than a third of those surveyed, however, would be “not OK” with him becoming the nominee, the highest among the candidates and an indication of how polarizing he is even among Republicans. More than a third of poll participants said Trump isn't religious enough to be a good president, while 47 percent say he'd be “too radical” to lead the nation.
A plurality of the likely primary voters—39 percent—view themselves primarily as “mainstream Republicans,” while a third identify as “religious conservatives” and 20 percent as Tea Party. About a fifth of those likely to cast ballots Saturday say they'll be doing so for the first time in a primary.
The survey, conducted Feb. 13-16 by Selzer & Co. of West Des Moines, Iowa, included 502 likely Republican primary voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
The survey contained some discouraging signs for Rubio, with more than a third of poll participants viewing the 44-year-old senator as too young to be a good president, and only 16 percent say he could win the general election in November despite his focus on electability as a key selling point to voters.
The Florida senator’s stumble in a debate just before the New Hampshire primary, where he repeatedly used the same line, left South Carolina primary voters split—45 percent to 46 percent—on whether his actions mean he can stay on message, or doesn't think well on his feet and robotically repeats the same lines.
Cruz’s lack of endorsements by fellow U.S. senators is viewed as a negative by 47 percent, with that share agreeing he “doesn't have the necessary relationships to bring about change because people do not want to work with him.” Forty-two percent see his lack of endorsements as a reflection of a willingness to take on powerful interests, even in his party.
For Bush, the state’s likely voters appeared split on his family ties. Forty-nine percent say that he's riding on family coattails with experience rooted in the past, compared to 41 percent who say being the son and brother of past presidents makes him “supremely qualified” for the job.
Despite trailing in fifth place, Carson has the highest favorability rating among the candidates, at 65 percent, followed by Rubio at 64 percent, Trump at 55 percent, Cruz at 54 percent, Bush at 51 percent and Kasich at 41 percent.
Between the state's two U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, it seems the junior senator might be a more useful endorsement among likely primary voters. Scott, who is backing Rubio, is viewed favorably by 61 percent, with only 13 percent having unfavorable views. Graham, who is backing Bush, is viewed favorably by 41 percent and unfavorably by 51 percent.
No matter how their preferred candidate does, a majority of likely Republican primary voters said they want the candidates to be realistic, if it looks like they don't have a chance to win the nomination.
A solid majority—60 percent— said it would be better for a candidate to sacrifice his campaign, support a competitor and help unify the party for the general election, compared to 32 percent who said it would be better for their candidate to keeping fighting. 
Four recent polls of the South Carolina GOP primary show that Donald Trump leads Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 97% among the 65 percent of likely GOP primary voters who self-describe as evangelical Christians.
CNN, Public Policy Polling (PPP), Emerson College, and Opinion Savvy polls all show that Trump’s double-digit lead among the general population is accompanied by a similar lead among evangelicals.
Accrding to the CNN poll, conducted between February 10 and February 15, Trump leads Cruz in the general population by 16 points, 38 percent to 22 percent. That lead is even larger among evangelicals:
Trump holds an even broader lead among white evangelical voters in the state, who typically make up a majority of Republican primary voters. He tops Cruz by nearly 20 points among this group: 42% Trump, 23% Cruz, 14% Rubio, 9% Bush, 5% Carson and 1% Kasich.
The Emerson College poll, conducted between February 15 and February 16, shows Trump with an overall 13 point lead over Cruz, 33 percent to 20 percent, and with an equally strong 12 point lead over Cruz, 39 percent to 27 percent, among evangelicals.
The PPP poll, conducted between Feb 14 and Feb 15, shows Trump leading Cruz and Rubio, who are tied for second, overall by 17 points, 35 percent to 18 percent, but also leading Cruz among the evangelicals who comprised 62 percent of its sample, by 13 points, 35 percent to 22 percent.
An earlier poll by Opinion Savvy and the Augusta Chronicle, conducted between February 10 and February 11, showed similar results. Trump leads Cruz overall by 16 points, 36 percent to 20 percent, and among evangelicals by 9 points, 32 percent to 23 percent.
The results are remarkably different from the Iowa GOP caucuses, where evangelical voters favored Cruz over Trump by a 12 point margin, 34 to 22, according to entrance polls reported by the Washington Post. It was the record 64 percent turnout of evangelicals that powered Cruz’s 27 percent to 23 percent victory over Trump on February 1 in the Iowa GOP caucuses.
The Des Moines Register poll, released two days before the caucuses, gave Trump a 5 point, 28 percent to 23 percent lead over Cruz in Iowa, but that poll dramatically under-sampled evangelicals, which it showed supported Cruz over Trump by a 14 point margin, 33 percent to 19 percent.
That poll, however, did add this caveat:
If evangelicals turn out with the same force as in 2012, the race will be closer.
This poll shows 47 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers identify themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians. Entrance polling four years ago measured 57 percent.
When Selzer rejiggered the new Iowa Poll results to reflect a hypothetical 60 percent evangelical turnout, the race tightens: Trump gets 26 percent of their support, and Cruz gets 25 percent.
Had the Des Moines Register poll included a sample size of 64% evangelicals —the actual turnout — the poll results would likely have shown a tie or slight edge for Cruz, since the 14 point advantage it ascribed to Cruz among evangelicals nearly mirrored the 12 point advantage entrance polls showed he had on caucus night.
Nationally, however, Trump has consistently led Cruz among evangelicals.
In New Hampshire, where only 23 percent of those who vote in GOP Primaries self-identify as evangelicals, Trump soundly beat the field by 19 points, winning 35 percent to second place John Kasich’s 16 percent. But among New Hampshire evangelicals, Trump beat Cruz by 4 points, 27 percent to 23 percent.
What, then, can explain the difference in the levels of Cruz’s support among evangelicals in Iowa and South Carolina?
USA Today offers its own take on the rise of Trump among South Carolina’s evangelicals, reporting that there is “a fissure that’s opened wide among South Carolina evangelicals in the lead-up to the GOP presidential preference primary on Feb. 20,” as quoted here:
The cracks began to open in 2012 when a twice-divorced Newt Gingrich won South Carolina, but it’s been ripped wide open by a twice-divorced Trump.
As candidates court the roughly 65% of GOP voters in the state who count themselves as evangelicals, many of those voters are looking beyond faith to choose their candidate.
Instead, evangelicals are split into two camps and the divide has grown in the 20 years that Michael Lindsay, a sociologist who wrote the Pulitzer-nominated book Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, has studied evangelicalism in politics.
Trump, and to a lesser extent Cruz, have tapped into the “populist evangelicals,” those working-class folks who listen to conservative talk radio, are drawn to mass rallies and hold the idea that motivating great masses of people is the way to achieve political influence, Lindsay said.
In this election, the populist, anti-establishment sentiment has dominated so far, and Trump, the unlikely evangelical candidate, has benefited, he said.
Hogan Gidley, former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party and until recently director of communications for Mike Huckabee’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, has a theory.
“First, in Iowa you get to work at it for a year. Second, there are plenty of big name evangelicals in Iowa for sale. Flash a little money around and you can get them in a heartbeat, and their networks are massive,” Gidley tells Breitbart News from his home in Columbia, South Carolina.
“Cruz was able to cover a lot of his warts in Iowa, but a lot of those things are coming out. Evangelicals in South Carolina don’t like what they’re hearing and what they’ve seen from him,” he says.
“For example, Ted Cruz’s slogan is ‘I’m as good as Reagan but a little better than Jesus.’ If you’re going to make those claims, you better deliver,” Gidley adds.
“Ted Cruz doesn’t tithe. He will lie and cheat and steal votes from Ben Carson. The simplest of evangelical tasks is to ask for forgiveness when you’ve done wrong, but on the CBS debate stage the other night, he blamed CNN and didn’t ask for forgiveness,” he continues.
“South Carolinians realize the presidency is a secular office. You don’t have to be from us to get our votes, you just can’t lie to us and expect to get our votes,” he notes
“If you’re going to parade yourself around as paragon of Chrisian virtue, you’re going to have to be pretty airtight when it comes to your own Christian behavior,” Gidley says.
Breitbart News pointed out that as a former staffer on Governor Mike Huckabee’s campaign, Gidley is likely to be biased against Cruz, particularly in light of the fact that the Texas senator supplanted Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses on the strength of their support, among Iowa evangelicals.
“Huckabee doesn’t like any phony, and neither do I,” Gidley responded.
Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation and a campaign surrogate for Ted Cruz, has a markedly different interpretation.
“To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, there are lies, damn lies and political polls. There are polls that are all over the place, including the polls in Iowa that said Trump was going to win a huge victory in Iowa,” Phillips tells Breitbart News.
“I have not seen the polling, but I am on the ground in South Carolina. I fail to see how Donald Trump resonates with Evangelical voters on a large scale. Evangelical voters are not monolithic, but they are generally value voters. I don’t see how Trump relates to them with his prior support for every form of abortion and his massive giving to pro-abortion Democrats,” he says.
“Ted Cruz is an evangelical. He speaks the language and walks the walk. Ted Cruz’s dad is a Baptist preacher who has been on the ground in South Carolina.” Phillips adds:
I really can’t see how evangelical voters support Donald Trump. Trump is the guy that MSNBC called ‘The most LGBT friendly Republican in 2016.’ Most evangelicals believe marriage is between one man and one woman and want the GOP to do something about the Obergefell decision (the Supreme Court decision on homosexual marriage). Donald Trump came out and said, don’t do anything. It is now the law of the land.
“In Iowa, evangelical voters overwhelmingly supported Ted Cruz. Demographically, South Carolina is much closer to Iowa than it is to New Hampshire. I would expect Cruz to do exceptionally well with evangelical voters,” Phillips concludes.
Despite Trump’s double-digit lead in the most recent polls, most experts expect the race in South Carolina to tighten between now and primary election day on Saturday.
MSNBC Donald Trump Town Hall Live Stream: Watch Republican Front-Runner's Interview In South Carolina. Billionaire Donald Trump was set to appear on MSNBC Wednesday night at the exact time his competitors Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were scheduled to appear live on CNN. Trump, the front-runner in the Republican race, was due to participate in a one-hour town hall in Charleston, South Carolina, at 8 p.m. EST. 
If you're hoping to tune in, you can live-stream the MSNBC town hall event here.
MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are slated to moderate the Trump event, which follows an in-depth interview with Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 7 p.m. EST, according to a news release.
Business mogul Donald Trump points as he gives a speech at Trump Tower last year in New York City. Here's how to live-stream the candidate's town hall event on MSNBC Wednesday night.
As of Wednesday morning, Trump was averaging a 17.5-point lead in South Carolina over the next-closest GOP candidate, according to RealClearPolitics. The real estate mogul had the support of about 35 percent of likely primary voters, while Cruz, Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush trailed him. Kasich and Carson were in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
The rankings were a little different nationally, but Trump was still dominating. The HuffPost Pollster showed the front-runner holding 38.8 percent of the vote. Following Trump were Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Bush and Kasich, in that order.
Voting stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST Saturday in South Carolina as people decide who to support. The state is worth 50 delegates to the Republican National Convention later this year, and it could be particularly important for Trump because a big win "there will start to raise questions about where, if anywhere, he can be stopped," the Washington Post reported.
Trump was set to join Bush and Kasich Thursday night on CNN at another town hall event. Anchor Anderson Cooper will interview both groups of candidates for their "one last nationally televised chance to make their cases" before Saturday, according to the site.
Cruz tops GOP field for first time in new national poll; voters split over Supreme Court vote. Ted Cruz has inched ahead of Donald Trump in a new national poll released Wednesday, the first national poll of the 2016 cycle that shows the Texas senator on top of the Republican field.
Cruz has the backing of 28% of Republican voters nationwide, unseating Trump, who won the support of 26% in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
But Cruz's 2-point edge is within the poll's margin of error, and it's not clear if the survey captures real movement in the race or is simply an outlier.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio comes in third with 17% support, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 11%, Ben Carson at 10% and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in last place with 4%.
The results are a major change from last month's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, when Trump held a 13-point lead over Cruz, 33% to 20%.
But Trump dismissed the new results, when asked about them Wednesday night during a town hall hosted by MSNBC.
"I have never done well in the Wall Street Journal poll. I think somebody at Wall Street Journal doesn't like me but I never do well with the Wall Street Journal poll," Trump said. "So I don't know. They do these small samples and I don't know exactly what it represents."
Cruz, however, crowed about his standing in the race Wednesday.
"The sound you're hearing is the sound of screams coming from Washington, D.C.," Cruz told supporters at a rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on Wednesday afternoon. "But what's happening nationally is indicative of the stakes in this race."
The latest survey was conducted by Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Peter Hart after Saturday's GOP debate in South Carolina.
McInturff told NBC News it was too early to tell whether the change at the front of the Republican field was permanent or only a temporary "pause."
"When you see a number this different, it means you might be right on top of a shift in the campaign," McInturff said. "What you don't know yet is if the change is going to take place or if it is a momentary 'pause' before the numbers snap back into place."
Trump has continued to dominate the next two Republican contests, however, according to a pair of CNN/ORC polls released this week. In South Carolina, Trump leads Cruz 38%-22%, and in Nevada, Trump is beating Rubio 45%-19%.
Another NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday found registered voters to be divided on whether the Senate should vote this year on a replacement for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Forty-three percent believe the Senate should vote on a replacement this year rather than wait for President Barack Obama's term to end, versus 42% who oppose a vote.
Along party lines, Democrats overwhelmingly support a vote this year, Republicans overwhelmingly reject a vote, and independents are split: 43% in favor and 42% opposed.
Obama has vowed to press forward and submit a nominee to the Senate, despite promises from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would block any vote.
The NBC News/WSJ pollsters contacted 800 registered voters for the question on the Supreme Court, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, and 400 Republican primary voters for the Republican field, with a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. CNN's Betsy Klein contributed to this report.
Nikki Haley endorses Marco Rubio. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is endorsing Marco Rubio, giving the Florida senator a huge boost just days before the state's crucial Saturday primary. Haley's endorsement came at a 6 p.m. Wednesday event in Chapin.
"If we elect Marco Rubio, every day will be a great day in America," Haley said, riffing on her signature phrase.
"I wanted somebody with fight, I wanted somebody with passion, I wanted somebody who had the conviction to do the right thing, but I wanted somebody humble enough to remember he works for all the people," Haley said.
"I wanted somebody who could show my parents that the best decision they ever made for their children was coming to America," said Haley, who is a first-generation Indian-American.
She'll be on the campaign trail with Rubio through Saturday's primary.
The popular second-term governor's endorsement could help Rubio, who is facing attacks from both Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ahead of Saturday's vote.
Haley's endorsement was first reported by state's biggest papers, The State in Columbia and The Charleston Post and Courier.
The current leader in South Carolina, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday, is Donald Trump, with 38% support. He's trailed by Cruz with 22%, Rubio with 14%, Bush with 10%, Ben Carson at 6% and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 4%.
Haley is just the latest South Carolina Republican whose support Rubio has picked up. He is also backed by Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy, two high-profile members of the state's congressional delegation.
Rubio sees Haley's endorsement as providing "a lift to come in second" in the Palmetto State's primary, a source close to the campaign told CNN.
It's also a sign, the source said, that "the disaster at the debate in New Hampshire is over" and Rubio now has firm standing over Bush.
Bush himself had told NBC News on Tuesday that Haley's endorsement would be critical.
"She is the probably the most meaningful endorsement," Bush said, adding that her support would be "powerful" and if he didn't get it, "it sends a signal that I got to work harder."
Speaking to reporters after a town hall event in Summerville, South Carolina, Bush said he was "disappointed" to not win Haley's support.
"She's a very good governor and should I win the nomination, there will be a role for her in the campaign, trust me. She's a great person," Bush said.
A source close to the Bush campaign said they had lobbied hard for Haley's support and hoped she would go with them, and the source acknowledged that this would make South Carolina even more difficult for Bush to win.
Haley has long made her distaste for Trump clear, including a shot at the Republican front-runner in the State of the Union response she delivered for the GOP this year.
"During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices," Haley said during that speech from the governor's residence in Columbia. "We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country."
Trump disparaged Haley during a Wednesday evening rally, saying, "She's very, very weak on illegal immigration."
He had previously called Haley a "friend" even when invoking her "anger" comments about him.
"We can't have that, we need strong strong immigration policies," he added.
Later Wednesday, Dan Scavino, a senior adviser to Trump, tweeted an article from conservative news website entitled "Refugee-lovin' governor sued for importing Muslims" about a lawsuit filed by an activist that seeks to prevent efforts to resettle refugees from Syria and Iraq in South Carolina. The lawsuit names Haley, the state Department of Social Services and two nonprofit agencies as defendants, reported. CNN's Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.
Ted Cruz to Donald Trump: Sue me. Ted Cruz said he is calling Donald Trump's bluff -- and Trump is refusing to take his threat to sue Cruz off the table.
Cruz slammed Marco Rubio and Trump during a dramatic news conference Wednesday that underscored the escalating tension among Republicans ahead of Saturday's South Carolina primary.
But it was his broadside against Trump that sounded like a challenge: Sue me.
"I have to say to Mr. Trump, you have been threatening frivolous lawsuits for your entire adult life," Cruz said at a news conference in South Carolina. "If you want to file a lawsuit challenging this ad, claiming defamation, file the lawsuit."
Trump responded by goading Cruz, saying that "time will tell, Teddy," as he repeated his threat of lawsuits -- over a Cruz campaign ad or over his eligibility for the presidency, given the Texas senator's Canadian birth -- off the table.
The dust-up is over an ad Cruz's campaign is airing in South Carolina that paints Trump as supportive of abortion rights -- featuring a 1999 clip in which Trump calls himself "very pro-choice."
Trump has since evolved on the issue and now says he opposes abortion rights.
Cruz said Wednesday said that Trump's lawyers have sent his campaign a cease and desist letter ordering Cruz's campaign to take down the spot, and the Texas senator is calling the billionaire businessman's bluff.
"But if Donald Trump files the lawsuit that he threatens, that lawsuit will be frivolous," Cruz said.
In a statement issued by his campaign minutes after Cruz's comments Wednesday, Trump pointed to the Cruz campaign's tactics in Iowa, where staffers inaccurately portrayed Ben Carson as dropping out of the race while caucus-goers were still voting.
"He is a liar and these ads and statements made by Cruz are clearly desperate moves by a guy who is tanking in the polls -- watching his campaign go up in flames finally explains Cruz's logo," Trump said, in a reference to the flame included in Cruz's campaign logo.
Trump later told supporters during a campaign event in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Wednesday that Cruz "stole" the caucuses, calling his actions "a disgrace."
In the statement, Trump added: "I am pro-life and I do not support tax payer funding for Planned Parenthood as long as they are performing abortions. ... If I want to bring a lawsuit it would be legitimate. Likewise, if I want to bring the lawsuit regarding Senator Cruz being a natural born Canadian I will do so. Time will tell, Teddy."
Cruz pointed out the ad uses video of Trump and he argued that any court in the country would reject a defamation case based on use of a candidate's own words.
And on the Florida senator, Cruz said, "Marco Rubio is behaving like Donald Trump with a smile."
"They are right now are in the closing period of a campaign," Cruz said, adding his campaign is "focused on any accomplishments that Rubio has."
Cruz, Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are in a hard fought battle for the South Carolina Republican primary this Saturday. Trump has been polling ahead, with Cruz trailing in second.
On Tuesday, Trump repeatedly called Cruz a liar while speaking to the media and campaigning on the trail.
"Let me just say, I've dealt with many people over my lifetime, and I've been very successful, and I've dealt with some people a lot tougher than him, but I've never dealt with anybody that lies like him," Trump told ABC on Tuesday morning.
Cruz said Wednesday that he was merely using Trump's own words.
"His own words said on national television are a matter of public record, and by definition repeating someone's own words can not be defamation," Cruz said.
Rubio hit Cruz for "disturbing" behavior on the campaign trail, saying that his Senate colleague has mischaracterized his record. CNN's Sara Murray contributed to this report.
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