Bob Dole: Ted Cruz worse for GOP than Donald Trump

Story highlights

  • "Nobody likes him," Dole said.
  • Dole said only Trump seemed to be able to take Cruz on, and he added that the real estate mogul seems to have "toned down" his rhetoric

Washington (CNN)Former Sen. Bob Dole said in a new interview Wednesday that Sen. Ted Cruz would be even worse for the Republican Party than Donald Trump were he to win the presidential nomination -- describing "cataclysmic" and "wholesale losses" for the GOP if Cruz prevails.

In an interview with The New York Times, the former presidential nominee said Cruz would also be worse at governing than Trump, saying the Texas senator has made enemies in Washington.
    "I don't know how he's going to deal with Congress," Dole told the Times. "Nobody likes him."
    Trump, on the other hand, could "probably work with Congress, because he's, you know, he's got the right personality and he's kind of a deal-maker," Dole added.
    Dole has endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and previously said he might "oversleep" on Election Day if Cruz ends up the nominee. He has taken issue with the way Cruz has spoken about party leadership and Dole's era of lawmakers in the Senate.
    In December, the 1996 GOP candidate told The Washington Post that he took exception to speeches in which Cruz said "remember President Dole and President McCain and President Romney" to suggest that insufficiently conservative Republican candidates don't win the presidency.
    Dole said in the Times interview that he questions Cruz's commitment to the GOP, saying Cruz chooses "conservative" as his label. Dole called him an "extremist."
    "If he's the nominee, we're going to have wholesale losses in Congress and state offices and governors and legislatures," Dole said.
    Dole said only Trump seemed to be able to take Cruz on, and he added that the real estate mogul seems to have "toned down" his rhetoric.
    He added that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is beatable -- but not for Cruz.
    "I think she'd be a pretty easy target in the general, if we nominate the right person," Dole said. "If (Cruz) does it, I think she'll win in a waltz."
    The 92-year-old former lawmaker is only the latest establishment Republican to express concern about Cruz's growing strength in the GOP primary polls, after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Tuesday said he hopes Cruz is defeated.