In an interview with Politico Monday, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) said it was "foolish" for fellow Republicans to attack Donald Trump.
"I would … note that an awful lot of Republicans, including other Republican candidates, have gone out of their way to smack Donald Trump with a stick. Now I think that's just foolish," said the Texas Senator.
Cruz's main argument: Trump resonates with a lot of Americans whose support is essential to winning the presidency.
"Donald Trump had a rally in Phoenix, Ariz. [to which] between 10 and 20 thousand people came out," Cruz explained. "When you attack and vilify the people at that rally as crazies, it does nothing to help Republicans win in 2016. I'd like every single person at that rally to show up and vote in 2016, knock on doors with energy and passion, and turn this country around. If Washington politicians show contempt and condescension to those [voters,] that is a path to losing at the ballot box."
"It is my hope to earn the support of the supporters for every other candidate in 2016," said Cruz when asked if he wanted to earn the votes of Trump's fans.
Politico notes that Cruz has been one of the few Republicans reluctant to condemn Trump over his controversial statements, particularly about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Megyn Kelly, despite signaling his disagreement with them.
Pressed on his refusal to engage in "Republican-on-Republican violence" with Trump while being outspoken in his criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Cruz explained that he does not shy away from highlighting policy differences.
"There are no doubts that there are policy differences between me and Donald Trump’s past policy positions," said Cruz, but noting later that he would not be drawn by the media into "the salacious back-and-forth."
Cruz also praised Trump for his role in bringing the immigration debate into the national conversation.
"I am grateful to Donald Trump for forcing the media to talk about illegal immigration," said Cruz. "Illegal immigration is a tremendously important challenge facing this country, and it is an issue where I have been leading the fight for many years."