Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz Saturday again praised front-runner Donald Trump and said that he would not attack the billionaire developer during the race for the nomination.
"I think the focus should be on substance," the Texas senator told reporters after speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island, Mich. His comments were reported by CNN.
"But let me say, I'm very glad Donald Trump is in this election," Cruz added. "I like Donald Trump.
"There are other candidates in the race who have bent over backwards to attack Trump, to take a two-by-four to Trump. I have not been one of them. I have not done so and I do not intend to do so."
Other GOP candidates slammed Trump on Friday for refusing to correct a man at a campaign event in New Hampshire Thursday who called President Barack Obama a Muslim.
The businessman shot back
early Saturday through five Twitter posts, one in which he asked: "Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don't think so!"
Cruz has consistently declined to criticize Trump, telling "Meet the Press"
on NBC in July that he would not engage on "Republican-on-Republican violence."
In Michigan, the first-term senator cited Trump for bringing illegal immigration to the forefront of the campaign and generating high interest among voters.
He noted how 24 million people watched the first debate on Fox News last month, while 23 million watched the second contest on CNN on Wednesday. The figures represented record viewership for both cable networks.
"Donald being in the campaign has focused the issues on illegal immigration," Cruz told reporters. "The other major value to Donald being in the race — as if there's one thing Donald knows how to do — is that it's attracted a lot of attention."
Cruz said the media was encouraging a GOP "food fight" and would address the issue of whether Trump is a Muslim
"You know, my focus is on my campaign," Cruz said, according to CNN
. "I understand the press wants to get Republicans throwing rocks at each other. How about we talk about the challenges facing this country?"
GOP Candidate Rick Santorum also refused to criticize fellow Republicans.
"The questioner can say whatever he wants. It's a free country. He's allowed to say whatever he wants," the former Pennsylvania senator said. "But the idea that somehow ... we have to go out there and anytime someone says something that offends the press that we have to correct it. I think that's, that's part of the problem here."
Other Republicans speaking at the two-day conference, which began Friday, include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina.
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