Why Ted Cruz's anti-Muslim sentiment is arguably even scarier than Donald Trump's

Texas senator Ted Cruz and property mogul Donald Trump have a lot in common.

Cruz's policy ideas echo a lot of Trump's bombast about taxes, the role of the state and immigration - and perhaps most frighteningly, his stance on Islam.

But does Cruz really believe his own bizarre line that there's no such thing as "anti-Muslim sentiment", even when Muslims are the only targeted group in the US who have experienced a rise in hate crime in recent years?

In the wake of the San Bernardino attack that left 14 people dead, President Barack Obama urged for calm, and stressed that the distinction between radical and peaceful variants of Islam needed to be kept in mind.

US attorney general Loretta Lynch also said that hate speech and backlash attacks on ordinary Muslim citizens would not be tolerated.

But Cruz, in a speech last week, failed to make this distinction whatsoever, calling Obama an "apologist" for terrorism and Lynch the "speech police":

[Obama] spent a significant portion of his Sunday address as an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism. And his attorney general, Loretta Lynch, told a gathering the day after the San Bernardino attack that her department would move to prosecute anyone whose 'anti-Muslim rhetoric' 'edged towards violence'.

The day after a terror attack, 14 innocent lives snuffed away, we want a president and an attorney general who is standing up to defend this nation, not an attorney general who decrees herself the speech police for any who dare speak out against this threat.

Political pundits widely expect Trump's stint at the top of the polls to end before the Iowa caucus - and since Cruz's numbers show he's gaining momentum in the race, he might be the more likely face of the 2016 GOP candidacy and thus has a better chance of entering the White House.

But while Cruz's views, such as having a moratorium on refugees from the Middle East, are just as extreme as Trump's he has been less flamboyant in putting them forward and thus they have gone somewhat under the radar.

And although they've come to blows of late, Cruz is just about the only other Republican presidential candidate Trump has any time for and the former has been noticeably careful in not criticising the long-time frontrunner.

As Politico puts it:

Cruz fears alienating Trump’s supporters, having painstakingly positioned himself to take possession of the mogul’s large following should Trump’s backers decide he is unfit for the presidency.

We don't want to give you nightmares, but if either wins the ticket, it's more than likely he could pick the other as his running mate.

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