Donald Trump has recently come under fire for his comments lobbed against Arizona Senator and former GOP presidential nominee John McCain in which the former TV personality said that McCain was not a war hero because he was a prisoner of war. Although many Republicans are denouncing Trump, it appears that fellow candidate Ted Cruz is in support of him. Cruz considers Trump a surprisingly honest candidate and previously praised him in a Fox News appearance in June. His support almost makes sense given the two's politics. So, how similar are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz when considering such hot button topics as climate change, foreign policy, immigration, marriage equality, abortion, and the economy?
Both candidates are fairly similar overall, with key differences especially when it comes to foreign policy and immigration. Perhaps their biggest dissimilarity is the way they've delivered their messages to their potential constituents. Where Cruz has had a political career that has spanned well over a decade and thus has an established track record, Trump's standard method of disseminating his views is through Twitter. The Donald may have no specific section detailing his views on his campaign site but his tweets from years' past reveal a wealth of information.
Both candidates align fairly closely when it comes to the issue of global warming. Trump calls climate change a hoax, and Cruz has been vocally critical of those who do believe in the planet's increasing temperature, calling them climate change "alarmists" and likening them to "Flat-Earthers" — the folks who doubted Galileo back in the 1600s. In a March interview with the Texas Tribune, Cruz cited satellite data that allegedly "disproves" global warming claims while also invoking a 1970s Newsweek article about global cooling:
I'm a big believer that we should follow the science, and follow the evidence. If you look at global warming alarmists, they don't like to look at the actual facts and the data. The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.
Trump's views are a bit more controversial, however. He says that global warming isn't an issue of climate change but rather a conspiracy propagated by China:
In terms of foreign policy ideas, Trump is all for at least sending some additional personnel to Iraq and various Islamic State-controlled areas, according to a Fox News' On The Record appearance from February. He added that, when it comes to fighting ISIS, "nobody would be tougher than Donald Trump, nobody." Cruz is a little more cautious, however, saying he'd rather have Kurdish Peshmerga troops on the front lines before potentially sending U.S. soldiers. In an ABC This Week appearance, also from February, Cruz had this to say:
We need to accomplish the mission and the mission should be defeating ISIS ... If need be, we should go that step [of deploying US troops] but it should be driven by the mission and our first step should be to effectively arm the Peshmerga, use them as boots on the ground.
Prior to the McCain incident, Trump's comments on immigration proved to be his first controversy as a candidate. Trump insinuated that those who were immigrating from Mexico were all criminals and even went so far as to imply that they were killing U.S. citizens by taking manufacturing jobs. Given such harsh statements, it makes sense that Trump would be highly anti-immigration and advocate for strengthening the border as well as allowing few, if any, paths to citizenship. In fact, he's even been critical of Cruz's candidacy because Cruz was technically born in Canada.
Cruz, however, has advocated for an increase in border-securing measures, though he is far more receptive to immigrants obtaining green cards as well as H1B visas for skilled workers, according to his campaign site.
So, which issue does Trump and Cruz perfectly align with? That of marriage equality. Both GOP candidates believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, though Trump's stance has come under fire given the fact that his personal marriage history includes two divorces. Both see gay marriage as a states' rights issue rather than something that should be allowed across the country and Cruz considers the issue central to his campaign. Trump, however, has yet to name a focal campaign issue.
Likewise, both are strongly anti-abortion, though Trump says he was originally pro-choice before a friend's personal tale of choosing to keep his child changed his mind. Speaking with David Brody on the Brody File, an offshoot of the religious program The 700 Club, Trump explained that it was his friend's and others' stories that changed his view. Trump said:
He ends up having the baby and the baby is the apple of his eye. It's the greatest thing that's ever happened to him. And you know here's a baby that wasn't going to be let into life. And I heard this, and some other stories, and I am pro-life.
Cruz's path towards being pro-life is a markedly shorter one. He has been consistently anti-abortion throughout his political career. Cruz considers the availability of birth control via the Affordable Care Act to be a threat against women rather than a benefit. He opposes any government funding to either contraceptives or abortions, and in 2012 defended and helped pass Texas' Rider 8, a provision which prevents state funds from being allocated to groups that perform abortions.
In one of his cheekier tweets, Cruz implied that his detractors — namely liberals — couldn't handle a good old balanced budget, which is exactly what he vows to do if elected president. He supports a balanced budget amendment that would mandate it and previously voted against raising the debt ceiling. Trump has yet to outline his current thoughts on U.S. economics, though he was especially critical of a proposed 2012 budget from Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan, predicting that the plan would ultimately be Romney's downfall.
Images: John Pemble (1), Gage Skidmore/Flickr (2)