Rarely one to share the spotlight, Texas firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz made a notable exception on Wednesday when he welcomed 2016 rival Donald Trump to Capitol Hill to protest the Iran nuclear deal.
The two Republican presidential candidates headlined a tea party rally in opposition to the “catastrophic” proposed agreement between Iran and six world powers in what was the clearest sign yet of how Cruz is linking himself to the GOP frontrunner.
Both candidates warned of dire consequences if the deal is implemented, especially the impact it would have on Israel.
“If this deal goes through, we know to an absolute certainty people will die. Americans will die, Israelis will die, Europeans will die” said Cruz.
Trump promised that, if elected president, Iran would release the four American hostages currently being held in the country even before he took office. He continued to hype his negotiating skills, and told the crowd that a Trump administration “would have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning.”
In previous statements, though, the two have differed on what they would do with the deal once in the White House. Cruz has pledged to rip the deal "to shreds" on day one, while Trump said on "Meet The Press" last month that destroying the deal completely would be "very tough to do."
But there seemed to be no division outside the U.S. Capitol when Cruz and Trump embraced each other while they passed on stage.
“I like Donald. He's a friend of mine. But when Donald arrives at an event, he brings an army of TV reporters,” Cruz said of his move to invite Trump to the rally, according to CNN. “He brings an army of cameras that show up. And Donald's being there -- he very graciously accepted -- means the mainstream media will cover the event."
Cruz, who has consistently polled near the middle of the crowded GOP field, has not criticized Trump like many of his fellow candidates. Instead he has embraced the outspoken real estate mogul in a move that could position him to appeal to Trump supporters if his popularity erodes.
“A lot of the other candidates have gone out of their way to smack him with a 2x4, said some really nasty, vicious things,” Cruz told reporters recently. “I think that's foolish. I think that's a mistake deliberately not done so indeed I've gone the other direction -- I've sung his praises. He's bold, he's brash and I think the support he's gaining right now in the polls is because people are looking for someone willing to stand up to Washington.”
The latest NBC-News/Marist poll shows Donald Trump gets the support of 29 percent of potential GOP caucus goers, while Cruz is at just 4 percent. But a recent Quinnipiac poll reveals Cruz runs much more competitively with Trump among very conservative and tea party voters, which could result in support for Cruz if the frontrunner flames out.
Sarah Palin, a tea party favorite and the 2008 vice presidential nominee, will also attend the rally.
Despite the fierce opposition from Republicans on the campaign trail, the fate of the deal has largely been decided. Republicans in the Senate do not have the votes necessary to override a presidential veto if a Resolution of Disapproval is passed, and enough Senate Democrats have pledged support to prevent any such legislation from reaching the president’s desk.
-- NBC's Shaquille Brewster contributed to this report