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Story highlights

Cruz has repeatedly touted himself as the only "true conservative" in the Republican presidential primary and has upped his attacks on Trump in recent weeks

Cruz has suggested that the billionaire real estate mogul lacks the conservative bonafides needed to carry the Republican banner into the 2016 election

CNN will host town hall meetings with the GOP presidential candidates in South Carolina on Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. ET

(CNN) —  

Facing a barrage of attacks challenging his conservatism, Donald Trump on Tuesday sought to define his own brand of politics.

“I really am a conservative, but I’m also a commonsense person. I’m a commonsense conservative,” Trump said Tuesday. “We have to be commonsense conservatives, we have to be smart.”

The comments come as Trump’s rivals – most notably Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – question Trump’s conservative credentials less than a week before the South Carolina primary.

Cruz has repeatedly touted himself as the only “true conservative” in the Republican presidential primary and has upped his attacks on Trump in recent weeks, suggesting that the billionaire real estate mogul lacks the conservative bonafides needed to carry the Republican banner into the 2016 election.

Cruz and super PACs opposing Trump’s candidacy have blanketed the South Carolina airwaves knocking the New York billionaire, using Trump’s past support for abortion, some gun control measures and his praise of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to question Trump’s conservative credo.

Trump, meanwhile, has relentlessly knocked Cruz in interviews, speeches and on Twitter, calling the Texas senator a “liar” and “unstable.”

But Trump also suggested Tuesday that he would temper his comments on social media should he become president.

“If you become president it has to be toned down a lot,” Trump said Tuesday with a smirk on his face.