Ted Cruz infuriated a city of 8 million people when he criticized "New York values" during last week's GOP debate. Meanwhile, the candidate is going full steam ahead appealing to New England values.
On his campaign trail in New Hampshire, Cruz is trying to curry favor by saying Tom Brady was framed in the Deflategate scandal. Within the first minute of his first stop at a diner Sunday, Cruz praised the Patriots' quarterback, who won a divisional-round playoff game Saturday.
"I’m not willing to pander on much...but Tom Brady was framed." Ted Cruz's New Hampshire bus tour is underway.
— Matt Flegenheimer (@mattfleg) January 17, 2016
It took approximately 30 seconds for Ted Cruz to make a Patriots/Tom Brady reference in New Hampshire
— Katie Zezima (@katiezez) January 17, 2016
— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) January 17, 2016
.@tedcruz breaks out praise of New England Patriots, defense of Tom Brady, reference to Tip O'Neil and 2 JFK impersonations in 1st NH stop
— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) January 18, 2016
But wait: there's more. Cruz isn't blaming Roger Goodell or the Patriots' locker room attendant for those deflated footballs. He blames, rather, a political opponent.
.@tedcruz brings back a months-old joke in Milford, N.H.: "For the record, Tom Brady was framed ... and Hillary Clinton was responsible."
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) January 17, 2016
— Gromer M. Jeffers (@gromerjeffers) January 17, 2016
— Sarah McCammon NPR (@sarahmccammon) January 17, 2016
— Kyle Palmer (@kcurkyle) January 18, 2016
Ted Cruz, doing his 'Tom Brady was framed' riff: "Why do you think Hillary destroyed her email?" Man responds: "Trump helped her!"
— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) January 18, 2016
Cruz at NH diner: "how bout those Patriots?" "I'm not one to pander on many things but...Brady was framed"
— Katie Glueck (@katieglueck) January 18, 2016
Aligning himself with Brady and the Patriots seems like a simple, temporary bid for connection with the common voters. This is not Carly Fiorina rooting against her alma mater, but it also isn't Chris Christie sticking to his Cowboys fandom, even while governing the home state of the Giants.
Astute voters know this situation is more complicated. Trump has been campaigning for months in New England on grounds that he is close friends with Tom Brady. He has joked (is it a joke?) of Brady being his potential running mate. The four-time Super Bowl champion even has a "Make America Great Again" hat in his locker.
After his first three Super Bowl victories, Brady went to the White House and hung with George W. Bush. After the Patriots' Super Bowl win last season, he skipped the team's Obama White House visit.
Brady will play next Sunday at Denver, regardless of what politicians support him, in the AFC Championship Game. The New Hampshire Primary is scheduled for Feb. 9, two days after Super Bowl 50.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.