NORTH AUGUSTA — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump dialed back his attacks on rival Jeb Bush, focusing his ire on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz instead.
“I’ve never seen a human being lie so much,” Trump said of Cruz to a rally of 500 people Tuesday.
Trump on Monday said he planned to sue the senator over his citizenship if Cruz refuses to retract “false” television ads attacking Trump’s stance on abortion and Planned Parenthood.
Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father.
That lawsuit threat was not mentioned Tuesday, but Trump did not mince words about the Texas Republican, who has been out front about running to attract the evangelical vote.
“I’m a Christian,” Trump said, drawing loud cheers. “But to pull out the Bible and then he lies about so many things?”
Trump pointed to accusations that Cruz’s camp told Iowa voters that fellow candidate Dr. Ben Carson had dropped out of the race. Cruz won the Iowa caucus.
“So he got thousands and thousands of votes because of that,” Trump said.
Those in the crowd liked what they heard. Augusta resident Mary Ann Carnes said she didn’t like that Cruz portrays himself as the only Christian candidate in the race.
“He always says he’s an evangelical Christian,” she said. “But he acts like he’s the only person who can be that candidate.”
Trump touched on several of his campaign highlights, including cracking down on immigration, increasing trade and beefing up the military. He was interrupted once by a protester who spoke up during the candidate’s remarks on illegal immigrants. Supporters chanted Trump’s name to drown out the protester until police escorted her from the building.
Trump also enlisted the support of Betsy Sharp, the daughter of a Georgia woman whose farm he helped save from foreclosure in the 1980s. Sharp said that without Trump’s support her family would have lost a property they owned for five generations.
“Donald Trump stepped in to help,” she said. “He cares about America, he cares about the people, he cares about business. I think people don’t know that he does care.”
In 1986, Lenard Hill killed himself when the Waynesboro, Ga., farm was in foreclosure. Sharp said insurance money from her father’s death didn’t cover the debt and, after getting some media attention, Trump and other prominent businessmen stepped in and used their connections to put a hold on the foreclosure. Within 30 days, the family raised enough money to save the farm.
Trump urged those at River View Park Activities Center to vote in the primary on Saturday, even if polls showed that he was in the lead.
“You’re going to remember this day,” he said to close the afternoon rally. “And you’re going to say to yourself this was one of the great days of my life because this was the beginning of making America great again.”
Trump also planned to attend a rally in Beaufort Tuesday evening.
Reach Maya T. Prabhu at 843-509-8933.