(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Sen. Ted Cruz lambasted Donald Trump on Friday in a scathing Facebook post that accused the GOP presidential frontrunner and his "henchmen" of planting a false story about him in the National Enquirer.
Trump released a tongue-in-cheek statement Friday afternoon that referenced O.J. Simpson, said the National Enquirer was often right, and expressed "hope" that the supermarket tabloid was "not right about Lyin' Ted Cruz."
Earlier in the week, the National Enquirer released a story that strongly implied Cruz engaged in extramarital affairs with five women. The supermarket tabloid's story became a social-media firestorm on Friday.
"I want to be crystal clear: These attacks are garbage," Cruz wrote on Facebook in response.
"For Donald J. Trump to enlist his friends at the National Enquirer and his political henchmen to do his bidding shows you that there is no low Donald won't go."
These smears are completely false, they're offensive to Heidi and me, they're offensive to our daughters, and they're offensive to everyone Donald continues to personally attack. Donald Trump's consistently disgraceful behavior is beneath the office we are seeking and we are not going to follow.
Minutes before Cruz released his statement, a Cruz campaign official tweeted a letter Trump wrote for the National Enquirer last August. New York magazine reported that Trump and the National Enquirer's CEO David Pecker have been friends for years and are "very close."
"Well let me be clear: Donald Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him," Cruz told reporters. "And this garbage has no place in politics."
Trump issued the following statement in response:
I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week's issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it.
Likewise, I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer and unlike Lyin' Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman and then pretend total innocence. Ted Cruz's problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin' Ted Cruz.
I look forward to spending the week in Wisconsin, winning the Republican nomination and ultimately the Presidency in order to Make America Great Again.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The clash is the latest blow in the increasingly scathing back and forth between the two candidates.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he would "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife after a super PAC unaffiliated with Cruz published an ad featuring Trump's wife, Melania, posing nude for GQ magazine. Cruz replied back within minutes. He insisted that the ad did not come from his camp and called Trump a "coward" for attacking his wife.
On Wednesday, Cruz said on "Good Morning America" that his wife "is way out of his league. If he wants to get in a character fight, he should stick with me."
Trump then shot back at Cruz again.
"Lyin' Ted Cruz denied that he had anything to do with the G.Q. model photo post of Melania," he tweeted. "That's why we call him Lyin' Ted!"
Late Wednesday night, Trump tweeted out someone else's photo that depicted Heidi Cruz with an unflattering scowl. Next to that image was a more flattering photo of Melania Trump.
The post's text, which Donald Trump blasted out to his 7 million followers, said: "A picture is worth a thousand words."
Cruz responded to that provocation by calling Trump a "sniveling coward" to a gaggle of reporters on Thursday, adding that Trump has problems with "strong women."
"It's the action of a small and petty man who is intimidated by strong women," he said. "Real men don't do that and Donald is indicating the fear that keeps him up at night when he lashes out in anger. Donald should stick with attacking me because Heidi is way out of Donald Trump's league."
Trump responded Thursday night on Twitter:
I didn't start the fight with Lyin'Ted Cruz over the GQ cover pic of Melania, he did. He knew the PAC was putting it out - hence, Lyin' Ted!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
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