DES MOINES -- On the state fairgrounds at a campaign event, Donald Trump wasted little time before he went after Ted Cruz's stance on ethanol.
"He's for the oil but I understand it oil pays him a lot of money, he's got to be for oil right," Trump said. And later in the night Trump expanded on the comment.
"Well look he's from Texas -- to the best of my knowledge, there's a lot of oil in Texas, right? So, he gets a lot of money from the oil companies, and he's against ethanol and everything you're else talking about. And I'm not I'm totally in favor. And you know it's a big industry here, it's a big industry. You know if that industry is upset Iowa's got problems," Trump said to the crowd of about 1,500, composed of Iowans from special interest groups.
Trump also claimed he is evangelical and Christian, and while talking about Cruz and his religion, also brought up his ethnicity.
"Not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba in all fairness it's true. Not a lot come out, but I like him nevertheless," Trump said.
Cruz's father is Cuban, but he was born in Canada.
His relationship with Cruz, who surpassed Trump in one Iowa poll this week, was of interest to one questioner, who wanted to know what Trump "intends to do" with Cruz if he should be president. He suggested vice president or perhaps the Supreme Court.
"That is very interesting," Trump said, noting that it is not a contest between the two of them. "I would say that we would certainly have things in mind for Ted, to be honest with you. I mean, he's somebody that I could certainly say that [about] because I like him."
The idea that Trump likes Cruz resonated with some in the audience.
"I liked the idea that he could use him if he does become president," explained Joni Norman who is now deciding if she should caucus for Trump, Cruz and Rubio. "Cruz is a smart wise person."
The Cruz slights apparently had little impact, since the audience seemed to believe that Trump and Cruz have a friendly relationship.
Rick Ryan, a steel-worker from Des Moines, explained it this way. "It is like if you scratch my back I'll scratch yours, because if one of them wins, they will take care of the other one."
And "I didn't hear him attacking Cruz at all," one man said bluntly.
The campaign invited special interest groups to the rally and told them that they would be able to ask questions. These groups included: AARP, Tea Party Patriots, Veterans for Strong America, Iowa Pays the Price, America's Renewable Future and Rural Electric Cooperatives.
Tamara Scott, an Iowa GOP National Committeewoman, was also at the event and she also lauded Trump for releasing "America from the bondage of political correctness." She questioned why the establishment has not backed him despite the fact that he is "reviving the heart of America." Trump told her that he used to be part of the establishment, gave millions to Republican governors, and was viewed positively by the party. He also said that we will know in the next few months if the establishment is treating him fairly.
And he may have attacked the local paper, the Des Moines Register, but Trump told the audience he loves Iowa.
"It is very important for me to win Iowa," Trump said. "I do care do much about it."