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Ted Cruz begins to sharpen his response to Donald Trump

After months of refusing to criticize Donald Trump in any meaningful way, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz significantly escalated the battle against the New York billionaire on Tuesday. The shift in strategy came in the wake of Trump's continued birther attacks on Cruz's eligibility for the presidency and his insinuations that the Texan is influenced by wealthy oil lobbyists.

The Texas Senator hit Trump on multiple fronts on the radio and on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. At an evening town hall event in New Hampshire where he previewed a hypothetical Cruz administration State of the Union, Cruz repeatedly mocked Trump.

After proclaiming the abolishment of the IRS under his future Presidency, Cruz joked, "I'm pleased to say after months of that haunted house, we have finally auctioned off the IRS building to the public. I for one am particularly pleased that my good friend Donald Trump will be building a hotel where the IRS used to stand."

He went on, "I'm also pleased to tell you Donald last week finished building the wall," and without missing a beat added, "Donald paid for it!"

And then Cruz brought up the hypothetical abolishment of the Department of Education, saying, "Some of you were concerned [about] what we would do with another empty building empty building in Washington D.C. Donald told us he doesn't need another hotel. So I'm pleased to announce tonight, that George Soros has purchased the building and he will be opening the William Jefferson Clinton museum of youth outreach"

Trump slams Cruz over birthplace, donations

Referencing Trump's obsession with "winning," Cruz told the packed audience in Londonderry, "It's not just going to be us winning and winning and winning until your tired of winning. There's also this little thing called the Constitution."

"It seems the Hillary folks are very eager to support Donald Trump and the attacks being tossed my direction."

Noting Trump's citation of liberal Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe over the birther issue, the Texan questioned Trump's electability during a mid-day press availability in Hudson, New Hampshire telling reporters, "it starts to make you think, gosh, why are Hillary's strongest supporters backing Donald Trump."

After a question about the Trump campaign playing the Bruce Springsteen song, "Born in the USA" on the Howie Carr radio program, Cruz responded "Well, look, he may shift in his new rallies to playing 'New York, New York' because you know, Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values."

After that radio interview, Cruz hit the airwaves on the Hugh Hewitt show, where he alluded to Trump's difficulty with the subject of the nuclear triad.

"Does a potential commander-in-chief know what the nuclear triad is, much less, is he or she prepared and able to strengthen it and keep this country safe? And it's certainly relevant -- does a commander-in-chief understand who our enemy is? Radical Islamic terrorism -- understand how to defeat it, not just based on what's said on Sunday shows on TV," Cruz said.

Trump's confusion about the nuclear triad has been raised a few times since Hewitt, during a GOP debate, asked him what his priority would be in the nuclear triad. Trump dodged the question, saying, "I think we need someone we can trust who is total responsibility who knows what he or she is doing that is so powerful and so important."

Asked again by Hewitt for an answer about his priority, Trump said at the time, "I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me."