The Texas Republican was interviewed by Breitbart News in South Carolina for an interview
published Tuesday, in which he told the conservative media outlet he'd tap the real estate mogul to negotiate trade deals.
"There is no doubt that Donald Trump would be a phenomenal negotiator with China, and, if you look at TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), I have come out against TPP, it is an incredibly long and complicated mess of a bill," Cruz said. "There is no doubt that Donald Trump would be a tremendously effective negotiator to help open up foreign markets."
Trump has repeatedly spoken on the stump about his negotiating expertise and how he'd be tough on China if he were president.
Cruz has thus far in the race declined to go after Trump, speaking highly of him and even appearing at a rally with him against the Iran nuclear deal. Trump has largely responded in kind, saying eventually Cruz will go on the attack and then Trump will retaliate.
Cruz also said in a radio interview
last week he would appoint Trump to build a wall along the border with Mexico, a key Trump talking point, were Cruz elected president.
The positive reviews of Trump continued in the Tuesday interview.
"Oh listen, I like and respect Donald Trump," Cruz said. "I continue to like and respect Donald Trump. While other candidates in this race have gone out of their way to throw rocks at him, to insult him, I have consistently declined to do so and I have no intention of changing that now."
Cruz has been rising in the polls and getting closer to the GOP front-runner. A Monmouth poll
on Monday found Cruz with a 24% to 19% lead among likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers, but a CNN poll
also out Monday showed Trump leading a surging Cruz 33% to 20%.
On Tuesday, the pair's presidential opponent, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, called out both of his fellow Republicans for Trump's statement calling for the U.S. to ban entry to foreign Muslims. Graham criticized Cruz for not outright condemning Trump's comments, merely saying Trump's policy was not his own.
Cruz said Tuesday that he disagreed with Trump's position.
"I do not think it is the right solution. The right solution I believe is the legislation that I've introduced," Cruz said at the Capitol, as he outlined other bills to limit the immigration of Syrian refugees.