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Cruz Hits Trump Over Attacks On His Wife: 'You Are A Sniveling Coward'

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks during a caucus night rally as his wife, Heidi, listens, in February in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chris Carlson
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks during a caucus night rally as his wife, Heidi, listens, in February in Des Moines, Iowa.

The war of words between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz reached a new fever pitch on Thursday, with Cruz calling his GOP rival a "sniveling coward" after the real estate mogul retweeted an insult aimed at the Texas senator's wife.

The latest swipe at Heidi Cruz's appearance comes after an anti-Trump superPAC ran a Facebook ad campaign in Utah using a photo of Trump's wife, Melania, a former model, posing partially nude.

On Tuesday evening, Trump attacked Cruz for the ad, threatening on Twitter, "Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!" Cruz has disavowed the ad from the unaffiliated Make America Awesome superPAC. "Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life," Cruz tweeted back Tuesday evening.

Campaigning Thursday afternoon in Wisconsin, which holds its GOP primary on April 5, Cruz went even further on the attack against his GOP rival after the latest volley from Trump against Heidi Cruz, a former Goldman Sachs executive.

"It's not easy to tick me off. I don't get angry often," Cruz told reporters after touring a manufacturing plant in Dane, Wis. "But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that'll do it every time. Donald, you are a sniveling coward, and leave Heidi the hell alone."

"Our spouses and our children are off-bounds," the Texas senator continued, saying he wasn't looking forward to explaining the attacks against their mother to his two young daughters. "It is not acceptable for a big, loud New York bully to attack my wife."

Reporters peppered Cruz with questions about whether he would still back Trump if he's the nominee, but Cruz dismissed such a scenario.

"I'm going to beat him," he maintained. "Donald Trump will not be the nominee."

Cruz argued that Trump's defense mechanism against any type of criticism had become late-night Twitter tirades and suggested that Trump especially bristles at any criticism from women.

"Donald does seem to have an issue with women," Cruz said. "Donald doesn't like strong women."

Trump's language toward and treatment of women has become a particular flashpoint during the campaign, and it's one that another anti-Trump group, Our Principles PAC, has already made into a campaign ad. Given the necessity of winning over female voters and the prospect of running against Hillary Clinton in the general election, the latest comments from Trump are sure to only concern GOP strategists even more.

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, another woman Trump has repeatedly sparred with and attacked, had a one-word response to his latest hit on Heidi Cruz — "seriously?"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
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