Milford, New Hampshire (CNN)It took Ted Cruz approximately one question here to get asked about the man almost certain to overshadow every move this week in New Hampshire.
Ted Cruz begins New Hampshire push amid Trump drama
Cruz kicked off on Sunday evening here his most aggressive move yet to compete in Trump's strongest early voting state -- a five-day, 17-event bus tour that will hit all ten counties in the Granite State. And it is likely to be dominated by his increasingly nasty feud with Trump, who hovered over Cruz's launch even as Cruz seems not completely eager to bash him in front of an audience.
Before Cruz even opened the door to a particularly raucous crowd in a pasta restaurant off the main town square, his top surrogate, former House Speaker Bill O'Brien, used the phrase behind Cruz's line of attack: "New York values."
And the very first question from the audience invited the Texas senator to again offer a faux-apology to Trump for the loaded criticism of the city -- in which he happily obliged.
"Our friends in the media, it seems like they lit their hair on fire. They were very confused: 'Well, what are these New York values of which you speak?' " Cruz said. "In the rest of America, people know exactly what that means."
And in Cruz's first New Hampshire crowd appeared eager to hear needling of Trump, hollering in approval during the few times Cruz or fellow audience members ribbed him.
"We will build a wall," Cruz said, agreeing with one of Trump's signature positions. "And I've got somebody in mind to build it."
Still, Cruz so far showed a little restraint when it came to whacking Trump before voters, rather than just reporters. When a woman asked how she could convince neighbors and friends who are supporters of Trump, Cruz took a more circumspect route to his criticism.
"Have you ever been burned by a politician?" Cruz asked the crowd. He then led the audience through fights where his GOP rivals where "nowhere to be found," including on immigration.
"If when the battle is being fought and you don't stand up and show up to fight, then your credibility when you're a presidential candidate when you say, 'Gosh, I really care about amnesty,' becomes a little suspect," Cruz said.
Cruz is set to launch his first packed day with a town hall Monday morning in Keene, one of five events scheduled.