Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes grilled GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump in a tough Monday-morning interview on Trump's treatment of Heidi Cruz and other instances of sexism.
Sykes, a Trump critic, began the interview on WTMJ by asking Trump whether he'd apologize to Cruz, the wife of Trump's main GOP presidential competitor, Ted Cruz, for promoting an unflattering picture of her on Twitter last week.
The billionaire accused Cruz of "knowing" about an ad from an unaffiliated super PAC that was released before last week's Utah primary. The ad featured Trump's wife, Melania, posing nude for GQ magazine when she was a model.
"Ted Cruz knew totally about it," Trump insisted. "He says he didn't know about it, but he totally knew about it. They sent that out to the people of Salt Lake City or the people of Utah ... He knew totally about it — if he didn't know about it, it would be a different story, but he totally knew about it. It was done by people that he knows very well."
Sykes pointed out that the ad did not come from Cruz's campaign. In one of many questions taking Trump to task, Sykes asked:
Is this your standard? That if a supporter of another candidate — not the candidate himself — does something despicable, that it's OK for you, personally, a candidate for president of the United States, to behave in that same way? I mean, I expect that from a 12-year-old bully on the playground, not somebody who wants the office held by Abraham Lincoln.
But Trump wouldn't budge and maintained that Cruz was involved in the ad. Sykes soon asked Trump why he wouldn't simply praise both candidates' wives and move on to the issues.
"I don't know Ted Cruz's wife — I'm sure she's excellent," Trump said.
"All this was was a response to what he did," he continued. "It was a very minor response to what he did. I didn't even know if it was necessarily a very bad picture of her versus Melania, frankly."
As The Washington Post's Philip Bump wrote on Sunday, it would be illegal for Cruz to coordinate with a super PAC. Bump also argued that such a move wouldn't be worth the risk because Cruz already had a big lead in Utah.
Sykes used the discussion regarding Trump's treatment of Cruz's wife as an opportunity to discuss broader issues of sexism. He asked Trump about a recent commercial, from another anti-Trump PAC, that featured women reading critical statements Trump has said about other women's looks.
"Women are just going to have to see what I've done," Trump said, later adding that "people have said, that in terms of breaking the glass ceiling, that I was a leader in it."
Later in the interview, Sykes asked Trump whether he was aware that Sykes was "a 'hashtag never Trump' guy." Trump said he had no idea.
"I assume you're also an intelligent guy," Trump said. "I know you're an intelligent guy."
Sykes followed up by saying he failed his Wisconsin audience by being unable to get Trump to apologize for his treatment of Cruz's wife.
"Well can I get an apology from somebody who sent out a picture of my wife?" Trump said.
He knew about that. Is he going to apologize? Is he going to apologize for starting it? And by the way, it was an artsy picture. It wasn't anything horrible. It wasn't Penthouse or Playboy or anything like that.
Sykes asked Trump whether he believed in apologizing for anything.
"I do apologize — I believe in apologizing," Trump replied. "I think before I'd think about apologizing, he owes me an apology. Because what he did was wrong."
Sykes, in an attempt to give Trump advice, also said Wisconsinites would be thrilled if Trump simply announced that candidates' wives were off limits.
"I don't mind that at all," Trump said. "I think that's great — I think that's fine. Who wouldn't agree to that? I think it's great. [But] I didn't start it. He started it."
Listen to the full interview below:
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