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A lot of people suspected this, but now Ted Cruz has actually been secretly recorded saying it at a big fundraiser, in audio obtained by The New York Times: His campaign is based on a strategy of just waiting for Donald Trump and Ben Carson to fail — because the American people ultimately wouldn’t want either of those guys “having their finger on the button.”

“So my approach, much to the frustration of the media, has been to bear hug both of them, and smother them with love,” he told his donors, so that eventually “the lion’s share of their supporters come to us.”

And well, Donald Trump isn’t happy.

Friday morning, The Donald tweeted the following, with full bravado and gusto:

And now Cruz has responded — with an attempt to totally back down from the fight into which he’s just gotten himself:

Sorry, that’s not going to work. Cruz has long said he wasn’t going to badmouth Trump. But now he has — and Trump is going to come right after him.

Update: We were waiting to see what Trump’s response would be to Cruz’s attempt at backpedaling. Then late Friday afternoon, The Donald did indeed respond — by retweeting Cruz’s message onto his own Twitter page.

Audio via The New York Times.

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