The Margin: Ted Cruz’s awkward hug with his daughter highlights Iowa challenges

Ted Cruz is hoping to get a little love in Iowa on Monday as he locks horns with billionaire Donald Trump.

But the Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate is having a hard time just getting a hug from his daughter, as he heads into a crucial caucus in Iowa, which could give the winner a leg up toward becoming the GOP presidential nominee. Trump still stands as the favorite in Iowa and has been lobbing shots at Cruz as his lead has increased. Here’s a look at the recent exchange between Cruz and his 7-year-old daughter Caroline:

See: The Iowa caucuses the Three things to Watch

To be sure, Cruz’s awkward moment on the campaign trail isn’t all that different from what your typical parent sees confronting an ornery child, but that didn’t stop critics on social media from drawing parallels between Cruz’s pitched battle for the Republican nomination with Trump and getting snubbed by his child.

This isn’t the first time Cruz’s children have drawn attention during his presidential campaign. A Washington Post illustration in December, depicting his two daughters as monkeys, drew criticism and was pulled by the newspaper. Some observers argue that episode might have helped deliver a fundraising jolt to Cruz’s campaign.

Familial affection aside, Cruz is in a political dogfight, with British bookies viewing Trump a “red-hot favorite” to win Iowa.

In Sunday political talk shows, Cruz and Trump exchanged last-minute jabs, as a recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll showed Trump drawing 28% of the vote of likely caucus attendees compared with Cruz’s 23%.

So while it might be tough for Cruz to get a hug from his children, it looks as if scoring a warm embrace from Iowa caucus voters isn’t easy either.

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