NEW YORK — Ted Cruz bashed Donald Trump over top aide Paul Manafort’s lobbying work on behalf of Saudi Arabia, leveling the charge during a Monday appearance at a private GOP meeting attended by many pro-Israel Republicans.
“Donald’s campaign is now being run by a longtime Washington lobbyist who has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Saudi Arabia to lobby against moving the American embassy to Jerusalem,” Cruz said at a closed-door meeting of Manhattan Republicans, according to audio obtained by POLITICO. “That’s who’s running Donald’s campaign.”
Cruz didn’t mention Manafort by name, but in the 1980s, Manafort, who is now running Trump’s delegate strategy, lobbied on behalf of the Saudis against a congressional push to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to an article from The Daily Beast, and people in the room perceived the comment to be a swipe at Manafort.
Cruz, who has pledged to move the embassy on “Day One” as president, brought up Manafort’s background Monday in front of a heavily pro-Israel crowd gathered at a GOP club in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood.
His swipe at Manafort came as part of a broader critique of Trump’s foreign policy, a day before a New York primary that polls predict Trump will win in a romp. A representative for Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cruz also jabbed remarks Trump has made regarding potentially reducing military aid to Israel and for saying he would be “neutral” between Israel and the Palestinians—major breaks with current GOP orthodoxy on the issue, and positions Trump has since reversed himself on. He mocked Trump for having “read off a teleprompter a speech someone had written for him on Israel policy” at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference. And he said Trump’s approach to the regime in Iran “reflects a naivete, a lack of understanding.”
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