Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) greets people during his campaign event at the Noah
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) greets people during his campaign event at the Noah's Event Venue on January 27, 2016 in West Des Moines, Iowa.
PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Now playing
04:12
Can Ted Cruz, a former Canadian citizen, be president?
PHOTO: Twitter / @smashracismdc
Now playing
01:50
Cruz swarmed by protesters at DC restaurant
ted cruz beto o
ted cruz beto o'rourke split
PHOTO: Pool
Now playing
02:55
Ted Cruz, Beto O'Rourke spar in first debate
Senator Ted Cruz at a debate in Dallas, Texas.
Senator Ted Cruz at a debate in Dallas, Texas.
PHOTO: Pool
Now playing
01:20
Ted Cruz: Americans are 'Dreamers' also
BOONE, IA - JANUARY 4:   Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) visits King
BOONE, IA - JANUARY 4: Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) visits King's Christian Bookstore on January 4, 2016 in Boone, Iowa. Cruz began a six-day bus tour of Iowa ahead of the state's February 1, caucuses. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
02:06
Ted Cruz speechless for 18 seconds after question
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
PHOTO: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Now playing
02:22
Cruz presses Zuckerberg on Facebook politics
Cuomo Cruz Split
Cuomo Cruz Split
Now playing
02:49
Cuomo presses Ted Cruz on his name change
ted cruz cpac gun sot _00000000.jpg
ted cruz cpac gun sot _00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:00
Ted Cruz: We should target criminals
ted cruz comments on 2013 shut down sot  _00001621.jpg
ted cruz comments on 2013 shut down sot _00001621.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:40
Cruz: I have consistently opposed shutdowns
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:55
Cruz: Grief after shooting staggers the mind
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:37
Ted Cruz on the porn tweet: 'It was not me'
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20:  U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during the first day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during the first day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.
PHOTO: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Now playing
01:39
Ted Cruz on health care: The math is simple
ted cruz sex toys dana bash intv sot_00003507.jpg
ted cruz sex toys dana bash intv sot_00003507.jpg
Now playing
01:13
Ted Cruz: The left seems obsessed with sex
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:51
Porn video 'like' removed from Cruz's Twitter
cruz health care sot
cruz health care sot
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:15
Cruz: Senators will face tough questions
ac zeleny who is ted cruz_00005407.jpg
ac zeleny who is ted cruz_00005407.jpg
Now playing
03:09
Who is Ted Cruz?

Story highlights

Donald Trump skipped Fox News' Thursday debate and talked about it the day after on Friday

Trump said his chief rival Ted Cruz got "pummeled" in Trump's absence

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump on Friday called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz an “anchor baby” during a campaign stop in which he also said his chief Republican rival got “pummeled” at Thursday night’s GOP debate.

“Ted Cruz may not be a U.S. citizen, right? But he’s an anchor baby. No, he’s an anchor baby – Ted Cruz is an anchor baby in Canada,” Trump quipped in a speech to supporters in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Trump’s use of the term – which describes children born on U.S. soil to parents who are in the country illegally and is widely considered to be derogatory – marks the latest escalation of his attacks against Cruz in which he highlights the Texas senator’s Canadian birthplace.

Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother, who were both living legally in Canada at the time, making him an American citizen by birth.

Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier hit back at Trump in a statement Friday, knocking the New York billionaire’s past support for legal abortion and praiseworthy comments about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“The only anchor here is the one being dragged behind the SS New York Values, causing Donald Trump’s campaign to stall out as voters learn about his affinity for Hillary Clinton and his previous statements supporting abortion,” Frazier said in a statement to CNN.

RELATED: Controversial term ‘anchor baby’ drops into the 2016 race

Trump has raised the issue of “anchor babies” in the United States more than any other candidate, regularly suggesting in his stump speeches that children born on U.S. soil to undocumented parents should not be U.S. citizens, as they are today considered under the law.

The GOP front-runner also has repeatedly raised Cruz’s Canadian birth to suggest that Cruz may not be eligible to serve as president of the United States. Trump and a handful of legal scholars have suggested the Constitution’s “natural-born citizen” requirement requires the president be born on U.S. soil, and the issue has never been adjudicated in federal court.

Trump also knocked Cruz’s debate performance, saying that the Texan “got really pummeled” by the rest of the field.

“Actually, I’m glad I wasn’t there ‘cause I guess all of that – he got pummeled, wow,” Trump said. “And you know they didn’t even mention he was born in Canada.”

“He got beaten up pretty badly last night,” Trump added.

Trump decided to boycott the debate after feuding with Fox News over one of the debate’s moderators, Megyn Kelly, and after the network issued a statement mocking Trump.

Trump instead hosted an event Thursday night in Iowa to raise money for veterans’ causes, raking in about $6 million, including a $1 million donation of his own, for 22 veterans organizations, the campaign said.

Trump noted that skipping the debate was a “risk” given that other candidates could have shifted the dynamic of the race in Trump’s absence.

But Trump said his competing event was “a 10” and suggested he would get a boost in the polls as a result of his bold decision.

RELATED: Donald Trump throws a grand old party

CNN’s Jim Acosta contributed to this report.