WASHINGTON — Donald Trump on Sunday repeatedly slammed his chief presidential rival Sen. Ted Cruz as a “total liar” as the Texas senator and his allies have claimed in the final stretch to the Iowa caucuses that Trump favors government-run, universal health care.
Cruz, meanwhile, pressed forward Sunday with the line of attack, proclaiming: “A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Obamacare.”
“Look, Ted Cruz is a total liar. I am so against Obamacare. I’ve been saying it for two years in my speeches, I’m going to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Trump said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don’t even know where he gets this.”
The back-and-forth comes as Trump has pulled ahead of Cruz in the final days of campaigning in Iowa, where Cruz had been surging until Trump began lobbing attacks at Cruz, most notably raising the issue of Cruz’s Canadian birthplace.
Cruz this week tied Trump’s position on health care to those of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, accusing Trump of supporting “socialized medicine for every American.”
Two super PACs — the pro-Cruz Keep the Promise I and the anti-Trump Our Principles PAC — have leveled similar attacks in ads posted days before Mondays’ caucus.
“First there was HillaryCare … then there was Obamacare …we can’t afford TrumpCare,” alleges a Keep the Promise I TV ad running through the Iowa caucuses.
And Our Principles PAC posted a full-page ad Sunday in the Des Moines Register which claims in part that Trump “has called for universal, single-payer, government-run health insurance.”
The accusations stem from a late September interview Trump gave to CBS’s “60 Minutes” in which Trump suggested every American would have access to health care if he is elected president.
“Everybody’s got to be covered,” Trump said in that interview, noting that his view might be “an un-Republican thing for me to say” and adding that “the government’s gonna pay more it.”
Asked if he was calling for universal health care, Trump said: “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”
Trump on Sunday strongly pushed back at Cruz and his allies’ claims that he supports government-run, universal health care, noting that he says in nearly each campaign speech he gives that “Obamacare is a total disaster” and that he would “repeal and replace” Obama’s signature health care law with something “terrific.”
“I have a heart. I want people taken care of. If people have no money. We have to help people. But that doesn’t mean single payer. It means we have to help people. If somebody has no money and they’re lying in the middle of the street and they’re dying, I’m going to take care of that person,” Trump said on ABC’s “This Week.”
As he did in the “60 Minutes” interview, Trump said his plan would be to work with hospitals and doctors to set up a better system.
And then Trump took another dig at Cruz.
“I mean, maybe he’s got no heart. And if this means I lose an election, that’s fine, because, frankly, we have to take care of the people in our country. We can’t let them die on the sidewalks of New York or the sidewalks of Iowa or anywhere else,” Trump said.