Story highlights

Donald Trump spoke to the New York state Republican Party's annual gala

He used his speech to attack Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's comment about "New York values"

New York CNN  — 

Donald Trump continued Thursday night his sharp attack on Sen. Ted Cruz’s past comments about the Empire State – and he did it without saying the Texas senator’s name.

“I want to just talk, just for a second, about New York values,” the Republican front-runner told the New York state Republican Party’s annual gala before unleashing a semi-scripted, six-minute defense of the “values” that Cruz rebuked earlier this year.

Cruz sought to undermine Trump’ support among Iowa’s socially conservative Republican primary voters by linking Trump to the socially liberal values in New York City. Cruz would go on to hand Trump his first defeat of the election cycle in the Iowa caucuses.

With the April 19 New York primary fast approaching, Trump is reviving Cruz’s now months-old dig in rallies and Republican Party events across the state.

Without once mentioning Cruz, Trump instead offered up his definition of New York values.

“Number one: Honesty and straight talk,” Trump said, also mentioning family and work ethics as part of the definition.

“It’s the energy to get things done. Big energy,” he added. “It’s courage and community service.”

As he did in his original response to Cruz, Trump also cited the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“New York values were on display for all to see in the aftermath of 9/11 – a strike at the heart of our city and our nation. In our darkest moments, as a city, we showed the world the very, very best in terms of bravery and heart and soul that we have in America,” Trump said.

Cruz, for his part, did not address the New York values comments that have dogged him as he’s campaigned in the state.

Cruz focused on his message of principled conservatism, but did open with a dig at Trump.

“I haven’t built any buildings in New York City, but I have spent my entire life defending the Bill of Rights,” he said.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who addressed the gathering after Trump, also picked up on Trump’s angle, addressing New York values early in his remarks to say that New York “just makes you alive.”

Kasich, who on Thursday evening secured the endorsement of former New York Gov. George Pataki, spent most of his speech touting his electability and countering Trump’s message.

“You can feed on their anxiety and cause anger and division, paranoia and even, at times, hatred,” Kasich said of voters. “Or you can walk into that same room and you can recognize the problems and the struggles and the anxieties that people have and you can talk to them about how we can solve those problems.”

Trump’s homefield advantage

While Cruz spoke over the chatter of an audience just wrapping up its meal, Trump – who was the first of the three contenders to speak – seemed right at home.

Donning black tie attire and speaking just 16 blocks from his glitzy Trump Tower, Trump spent most of his speech – nearly the first 20 minutes – listing his achievements in the New York real estate business.

Trump noted that it all began at the venue for Thursday night’s gala, the Grand Hyatt, which Trump renovated in partnership with the Hyatt Corporation in 1976 – one of Trump’s first forays into Manhattan’s real estate market.

“This was my start. This was my first,” Trump said of the venue.

From there, Trump discussed a slew of other New York projects – from his tower on the corner of Central Park to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to his renovation of the Wollman Rink in Central Park – all of which he touted as having prepared him to be president.

“Who the hell wants to talk about politics. This politics gets a little boring,” Trump said.