IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Rubio Avoids Attack on Trump, Hits Cruz Instead

Marco Rubio avoided attacking Donald Trump, instead turning a reporter’s question about Trump's complaints of a fixed election into an attack on Ted Cruz.
Image: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio speaks during his watch party in Des Moines Iowa
Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio speaks to supporters during the Rubio watch party at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa February 1, 2016.DAVE KAUP / Reuters

LACONIA, NH — Marco Rubio adamantly avoided attacking Donald Trump, Wednesday, instead turning a reporter’s question about the business moguls complaints of a fixed election in Iowa into an attack on Ted Cruz.

Asked about Trump’s tweets on Wednesday that Cruz “stole” Iowa because of reports that Cruz supporters had spread rumors about some of the candidates at caucuses to persuade their supporters to back Cruz, Rubio declined to weigh in on Trump’s comments, saying only, “I don’t know exactly what he means by that.”

He then pivoted to Cruz: “Obviously we’ve all seen the reports of the rumors they spread about Ben Carson, and you know those weren’t accurate and I thought it was unfair to Ben. You know, ultimately I think it goes back to what I said before — and that is [Cruz’s] willingness to say or do anything, in this case, spread a false rumor about Ben Carson.”

Related: How to Watch the New Hampshire Democratic Debate on Thursday

Rubio’s been making that case against Cruz for weeks, most recently charging that a controversial mailer sent out by his campaign pressuring Iowans to vote based on their past voting records and that of their neighbors was “desperate” and part of that tendency to say or do anything to get ahead.

But his refusal to target Trump is notable as most observers believe the two are on a collision course in the New Hampshire primary, where polls have shown Trump leading the GOP pack by a huge margin, with much of the rest of the field in a tight race for second. Asked specifically why he’s refused to take aim at Trump, despite attacking Cruz and, weeks ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rubio said he saw no reason to because Trump hadn’t outlined actual policy details. But “when the time comes,” he will.

Related: Trump Hits Cruz for 'Fraud,' Calls for Do-Over in Iowa

"Donald hasn’t really outlined any position on policies, with any detail — so, when the time comes, and it’s appropriate, we’ll do so,” he said. "I really, quite frankly, largely spend my time talking about what I’m going to do when I’m president.”

More from this gaggle — which fed in on sat 172 — below, including Rubio defining “establishment” — “people that have been involved in politics for a long time” — avoiding attacking Kasich, and avoiding predicting a knockout blow to Bush.

He also all but confirmed he’s receiving Toomey’s endorsement, saying “I have nothing to announce today” on that.