It’s been 10 months since Donald Trump announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and made the first in a long line of incendiary comments, but the billionaire’s response to a question on abortion last week may have finally tipped the scales against him.
The real estate mogul and former reality star has taken very divisive stances throughout his campaign, on social issues, foreign policy and national security. He’s been compared to Adolf Hitler and labeled a demagogue, a misogynist and a hate-monger.
Although Trump backed away from his statement that women who terminate pregnancies should be punished, if abortion were to be made illegal, rival candidate Ted Cruz has seized on the latest uproar over an extreme comment from the GOP front runner.
But Cruz is hardly near the centre when it comes to his policies.
So who’s further to the right on some of the hot button issues? You decide.
Donald Trump: Through the years, Trump has hopped all over the place when it comes to the issue of women’s reproductive rights. Long before he was a candidate for president, he was pro-choice. But after changing his tune before running for the Republican nom, he has tried to appeal to anti-abortion GOP voters.
This week’s comments that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who get abortions went too far for both the pro-choice and the anti-abortion camps. Trump said he misspoke and that it’s doctors who performed illegal abortions (if they were made illegal) who should be punished. Since making the much derided gaffe, Trump has been changing his position on a near daily basis.
Ted Cruz: Cruz has been resolute in his stance: he’s against abortion. He may have criticized Trump’s punishment comments, but the devout evangelical Christian politician opposes public funding of abortion and has even marked the “dark anniversary” of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling on abortion.
On ISIS, Syrian refugees and the Muslim community:
Donald Trump: Following the Dec. 22 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Trump said he wanted to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States.
Critics claim Trump’s rhetoric only helps fuel the radical views of the so-called Islamic State, also referred to as ISIS, and his opinions have hurt international efforts to combat the terror group. ISIS has even used footage of Trump in a propaganda video.
When asked, he wouldn’t rule out using a nuclear weapon against ISIS.
Ted Cruz: He may have slammed his adversary for comments about barring Muslims from entering the United States, but he was in favour of a “moratorium” on Syrian refugees and legislation that would allow governors to reject resettling Syrian refugees in their states.
And as far as attacking the extremist group itself, Cruz said the U.S. and its allies should “carpet bomb” the territory the group controls in Iraq and Syria.
After announcing he had put together a foreign policy team for his campaign, it was quickly pointed out his advisers included Frank Gaffney, a man noted for his anti-Muslim views, and Andrew McCarthy, who once wrote President Obama had been “raised a Muslim.”
WATCH: Ted Cruz comments on radical Islam and patrolling Muslim neighbourhoods
On LGBTQ rights and marriage equality
Ted Cruz: He called last June’s legalization of same-sex marriage and laws regarding the rights of transgender people have led to a “time of crisis” in the United States. He said the Supreme Court ruling that essentially overturned state bans on marriage equality is “illegitimate” and the “very definition of tyranny.” Cruz also blasted President Obama after the White House was lit up in the colours of the rainbow pride flag following the ruling.
Cruz said he thinks marriage equality should be up to the states and put to a vote, not decided by the Court. He feels the same way when it comes to same-sex couples being allowed to adopt.
Donald Trump: On the campaign trail, Trump also said it should have been up to the states to decide whether same-sex marriage should be legal. He stated he supports “traditional” marriage, between a man and a woman. In January, he said he would “strongly consider” trying to appoint Supreme Court justices who would reverse the 5-4 decision that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states.
But, for now, it’s “the law of the land” as far as he’s concerned and he has said that a person’s sexual orientation should not be grounds for discrimination in the workplace.
In December, the president of the LGBT Republican group known as the Log Cabin Republicans said Trump was “one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency.”
What do others have to say about Cruz vs. Trump?
Obama had some scathing comments this week about the GOP race, saying he’s “not the only one who may be more than a little dismayed” by the “vulgar rhetoric” in the Republican campaign, much of it coming from Trump.
From his fellow Republican candidates to his Democratic adversaries, and an array of political pundits, there’s no shortage of criticisms for Trump and his messages.
He may be a loudmouth, but he’s never held political office or cast a vote on legislation. Some believe Cruz has far more right-wing views and would be more likely to put them into political action. If Ted Cruz is the Republican Party’s cure for Donald Trump, the antidote may be worse than the poison,” Washington Post political columnist Eugene Robinson wrote in December.
While the current U.S. president has lambasted Trump, and others in the Republican race, at least one former U.S. president has said he’d probably choose Trump over Cruz. Although, it was by no means an endorsement.
“Trump has proven already that he’s completely malleable. I don’t think he has any fixed opinions that he would really go to the White House and fight for,” former president Jimmy Carter told the British House of Lords back in February. “Ted Cruz is not malleable. He has far right-wing policies, in my opinion, that would be pursued aggressively if and when he would become president.”
And while Trump has made a name for himself for his antics, Cruz has pulled his fair share of political hijinx. Remember his 21-hour speech against Obamacare, when he even read Dr.Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor?
-with files from The Associated Press