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Donald Trump meeting with Ted Cruz on Wednesday

Posted at 11:54 AM, Jul 15, 2015

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump will meet Wednesday with fellow Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz.

Trump said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Cruz called him to set up the meeting, but said he didn’t know what the Texas Republican wanted to discuss.

The meeting comes amid Trump’s rise in the polls to second and first place in the latest national polls and as Cruz has played weeks of defense for Trump amid the billionaire’s controversial comments likening some Mexican immigrants to “killers” and “rapists.”

“I do respect the fact that along with a couple of others he came out very strongly,” Trump said of Cruz’s backup on the illegal immigration saga.

Cruz and Trump have both locked heads with the Republican establishment, with Cruz fighting the status quo in Congress with unorthodox tactics, while Trump has locked horns with party elites over whether his comments about illegal immigrants have hurt the party’s outreach to Latino voters.

For his part, Cruz said Trump is bringing a “bold, brash voice” and criticized other candidates (not by name) who “go out of their way to smack Donald Trump.”

“I’m a big fan of Donald Trump,” Cruz told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. “I’ve spent a lot of time meeting with all sorts of friends of mine. I’ve sat down and visited with Donald multiple times before he was a candidate for president and I’m happy to sit down and visit with him now after he’s a candidate for president.”

Trump had met with many other GOP presidential hopefuls, including Cruz, in the months before he decided to launch his own bid.

Trump also donated $5,000 to Cruz’s political action committee last year.