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Donald Trump speaks at Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center at Iowa State University on January 19, 2016 in Ames, IA.
Aaron P. Bernstein—Getty Images

Presidential candidate Donald Trump focused his attacks on Republican rival Sen. Ted Cruz at a rally in Las Vegas on Thursday, calling him “strident” and “nervous,” while working to fight Cruz’s accusation that Trump is an “establishment” candidate.

“His new line of attack is that I’ve become the establishment — oh, give me a break because Bob Dole, who’s a terrific guy, said, ‘Trump will do better than Cruz.’ Believe me: I’ll do better than Cruz,” Trump said on Thursday.

The real estate mogul’s rebuttal comes as he and Cruz attempt to paint the other as creatures of the Republican establishment. Cruz has said the Republican “cartel” is beginning to support the businessman, and that GOP insiders are “unifying” around him.

“I would note Donald just a couple of days ago, drew the difference between me and him. And he said, ‘Look, Ted won’t go along to get along, he won’t cut a deal.’” Cruz said. “So if, as a voter, you think what we need is more Republicans in Washington to cut a deal with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, then I guess Donald Trump’s your guy.”

Trump has countered that Cruz will be beholden to Goldman Sachs if elected, referencing a loan the Senator took from the bank to help fund his campaign, and the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Tuesday has further bolstered the businessman’s independent image.

But while Trump worked to counter the notion he has become an establishment candidate, he also tried to give a positive spin to the label, telling his audience that it’s necessary to “be a little establishment” to accomplish things. “There’s a point at which — let’s get to be a little establishment. We got to get things done, folks,” he said.

“Here’s a United States senator — Republican — doesn’t have support of one other Republican senator. There’s something wrong there,” Trump said, before touting his own appeal with the party’s representatives in Washington. “I can tell you they like me — those guys, and there’s nothing wrong with that, folks,” he said. “We got to make deals.”

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