KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Ted Cruz equated Donald Trump’s loyalty pledge to subjects declaring their devotion to a king on Tuesday.
“The idea that a candidate running for office would want people to pledge loyalty to him like subjects to a king,” Cruz began telling reporters. “Well, we’ve had seven years of a president who thinks he’s an emperor.”
Cruz continued: “I raise my hand and I give an oath to you, to the people. That’s who’s working for whom.”
The pledge, which Trump has used for at recent rallies, requires his supporters to raise their hands and pledge loyalty to his presidential campaign. It has drawn comparisons to rallies during Nazi Germany, a connection Trump called “ridiculous” during an interview on TODAY.Cruz repeated his sentiments at a later event in Kannapolis, North Carolina, telling the crowd that Trump’s calls for loyalty struck him “as profoundly wrong.”
Trump’s efforts to lock down support coincides with a surge from Cruz, who has now beaten Trump in seven states and hopes to further cut down Trump’s delegate lead over the critical week ahead.
Cruz said at an event in Raleigh on Tuesday afternoon that it would be “perfectly appropriate” to oust Trump in the scenario of a contested convention, when no candidate has a majority of the delegates needed to win the nomination.
“[Ronald] Reagan and [Gerald] Ford battled it out at a contested convention,” Cruz said, rehashing the 1976 GOP intraparty fight. “That’s what conventions are for if you’re fighting between the candidates who have earned the votes of the people. And it’s the delegates at the convention who have been elected to do that.”
But Cruz warned that “an open revolt” would take place if “the DC establishment swoops in with their white knight” and engages in a brokered convention, warning of the potential fallout if the party attempts to inject a previously-undeclared candidate into the race.
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.