Cruz campaign: Donald Trump has been Washington ‘cartel paymaster’

Updated 3:31 PM EST, Tue January 19, 2016
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Story highlights

Cruz spokesman accuses Trump of being establishment "cartel paymaster" for years

Cruz and Trump are getting nasty as the Iowa caucuses approach on February 1

(CNN) —  

A top aide to Ted Cruz charged Tuesday that Donald Trump won’t be able to makeover Washington because he’s in bed with established interests and leading Democrats.

“He’s been the paymaster for the cartel for a long time,” Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “Donald Trump wouldn’t go and shake it up. He would go in there and make deals. He would compromise.”

Running neck-and-neck in Iowa, home to the February 1 caucuses, Trump and Cruz have dropped the buddy routine that characterized the early part of the campaign and have spent the last week ripping each other – Trump over Cruz’s attack on “New York values” and the Texas senator over his rival’s ties to the Democratic Party.

“The same Democratic Party that [Trump] gave money – to Eliot Spitzer, to Mario Cuomo, to Hillary Clinton, Anthony Weiner,” Tyler said. “So Donald Trump, as we saw on that ‘Meet the Press’ interview from 1999, has a lot of progressive liberal views.”

Asked about speculation that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will endorse Trump later Tuesday, Tyler conceded he would be “deeply disappointed” if it were true, but insisted Palin’s brand would be hardest hit.

“I think it’d be a blow to Sarah Palin, because Sarah Palin has been a champion for the conservative cause, and if she was going to endorse Donald Trump, sadly, she would be endorsing someone who’s held progressive views all their life on the sanctity of life, on marriage, on partial-birth abortion,” Tyler said.

Palin, who became a tea party star after rising to national prominence as John McCain’s running mate in 2008, told CNN’s Jake Tapper she was undecided during an interview at a “Politics on Tap” event in December.

“I’m not going to pick one right now, but what a nice problem to have if it came down to Cruz and Trump,” Palin said. “That’s a good problem for voters to have, because we know that, as you say, they are both strong and very decisive and someone who would take the initiative. That is what we need today, and both of those candidates would fit that bill.”