Ted Cruz has officially lost it with Donald Trump. Texas' Canadian-born junior senator went after the GOP's presidential front-runner Thursday afternoon with all the bluster he could find, putting an end to any hope the two candidates could revive the congenial relationship they had earlier in the campaign.
“It’s not easy to tick me off,” Cruz said. “I don’t get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that’ll do it every time. Donald, you’re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.”
Earlier this week, Trump began taking shots at Heidi Cruz, Ted's wife, following the social media publication of an ad featuring a nude photo of Trump's wife, Melania. The ad, targeted at Utah primary voters by Make America Awesome, an anti-Trump political action committee founded by GOP strategist Liz Mair, shows Trump's wife lying on a rug on Trump's plane. It was taken for a GQ profile of Melania Trump in 2000.
Trump was pissed at Cruz despite Make America Awesome having no affiliation with the Cruz campaign, and he made clear he'd have no issue going after Heidi Cruz.
Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
Lyin' Ted Cruz denied that he had anything to do with the G.Q. model photo post of Melania. That's why we call him Lyin' Ted!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
Those beans, presumably, are Heidi Cruz's well-documented battles with depression, something the Cruz campaign has consistently talked about openly.
As the GOP presidential campaign ramped up last summer, Cruz's making the sort of comments he made Thursday would've been hard to imagine. When Trump singled out Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers in the speech announcing his candidacy, Cruz defended the New York real estate developer's comments after NBC and Univision cut ties with Trump's Miss Universe pageant and reality TV show The Apprentice.
“When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific. I think he’s brash. I think he speaks the truth,” Cruz said during an interview on Fox and Friends last June 30. “And I think NBC is engaging in political correctness that is silly and that is wrong."
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Throughout the fall and winter, Cruz tried to stay out of Trump's way, hoping to pick up Trump's supporters when Trump's campaign eventually faded away, as hordes of very wise political observers predicted would happen — any day now, presumably. After Cruz was taped questioning Trump's judgement at a fundraiser in New York, he was again quick to reassert that Trump was "terrific," and accused the media of trying to set the two candidates off against each other.
Now, as Cruz and much of the rest of the Republican Party try to keep Trump from getting the majority of delegates he needs to win the GOP nomination without a fight at this summer's convention in Cleveland, it's tough to imagine Cruz voting for Trump, much less campaigning for him in a general election. When he was asked Thursday about any eventual support for Trump, were the Donald to win the nomination, Cruz refused to answer the question.
“I’m going to beat him for the nomination,” said Cruz, who is almost universally hated in Washington, even among his own party, for his propensity for political stunts and exacting certitude, but nevertheless has now picked up the endorsement of moderates Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham. “Donald Trump will not be the nominee. The reason why Republicans are coming together and uniting is that Donald Trump is a train wreck.”