MANCHESTER, Iowa — It's déjà vu all over again.
Campaigning Monday afternoon in this northeastern Iowa city, Ted Cruz found himself responding to a familiar source of criticism: his involvement in a Chinese patent case, which was first raised during his 2012 Senate race against then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The attack centers on Cruz's time as a private attorney, when he represented a Chinese tire maker accused of trademark infringement against a Florida-based businessman.
That businessman, Jordan Fishman, allegedly had his patented design for mining tires stolen by an employee in 2006 and copied by two Chinese companies. After Fishman won a $26 million patent infringement suit against the two companies, the companies appealed, at which point they hired the firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where Cruz worked as an appellate lawyer. The appellate court upheld the lower court’s ruling.
Dewhurst's campaign assailed Cruz as working against the United States, questioning his patriotism in a series of ads and mailers, some prominently featuring Fishman. Ironically enough, the man behind one of those mailers was Jeff Roe, the Republican consultant now serving as Cruz's campaign manager.
This election cycle, however, the line of attack was turned on Cruz by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has been sparring with Cruz for weeks over a range of issues.
"You can't go around saying you're tough on China and then have a legal record in which you were paid a lot of money to defend the Chinese who had taken a product away from an American unjustly, unfairly and illegally," Rubio told reporters when asked about the case earlier Monday afternoon in Des Moines.
When Dewhurst attacked Cruz as "Red Ted," Cruz countered that his involvement in the suit was minimal and that Dewhurst was twisting the facts of the case.
Speaking with reporters before a stop here Monday, Cruz laughed off Rubio's criticism, calling it another sign his rivals are "frustrated" with his campaign's progress in the Hawkeye State and elsewhere.
"This is an attack, frankly, that there were millions of dollars spent when I ran for Senate," Cruz said. "It's a false attack. It's a bogus attack. It didn't work then."
Cruz's remarks came during at the second stop of three planned across northeast Iowa on Monday. Cruz is spending the next six days in the Hawkeye State ahead of its first-in-the-nation caucuses on Feb. 1.