01:11 - Source: CNN
Presidential candidates weigh in on Brussels attacks

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"Donald Trump is wrong that America should withdraw from the world and abandon our allies," Cruz says

Washington CNN —  

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday slammed his GOP presidential rival Donald Trump in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels for calling for a diminished U.S. role in the NATO alliance just a day earlier.

“It is striking that the day after Donald Trump called for weakening NATO, withdrawing from NATO, we see Brussels, where NATO is headquartered, the subject of a radical Islamic terror attack,” Cruz said Tuesday in a news conference hours after terrorists struck civilian targets in Brussels, where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is headquartered.

READ: Donald Trump: Brussels “just the beginning”

“Donald Trump is wrong that America should withdraw from the world and abandon our allies. Donald Trump is wrong that American should retreat from Europe, retreat from NATO, hand Putin a major victory and while he’s at it hand ISIS a major victory,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s comments come as the states of Arizona and Utah are voting Tuesday in the Republican presidential race and as the Texas senator looks to close Trump’s lead in the delegate count.

READ: Why I’m voting for Trump

Trump on Monday deplored U.S. spending on NATO in an interview with The Washington Post’s editorial board, calling for a diminished U.S. role in the military alliance in favor of stepped up contributions from other NATO countries.

“NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money,” Trump told the editorial board. He added that the military alliance is “a good thing to have.”

READ: Obama on terror attacks: “We stand in solidarity” with Belgium

Cruz painted Trump’s remarks to The Washington Post as a “proposal to withdraw from the world, to withdraw from NATO, (and) to withdraw from Europe.”

Cruz also likened Trump’s position to what he views as President Barack Obama’s attempts to reduce the U.S.’s leadership role in the world.

But Trump, Cruz argued, would go even further.

RELATED: U.S. cities ramp up security in wake of Brussels attacks

“Even Barack Obama hasn’t gone from withdrawing from NATO the way that Donald Trump has,” Cruz added.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CNN’s Eugene Scott contributed to this report.