Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Donald Trump addressed the personal attacks that have turned the Republican elections away from serious issues and onto rumors, innuendo, and sleaze. In a week that brought us 2016’s first major Western terrorist attack, the subject of ISIS quickly gave way to a social-media slapfight between Trump and Ted Cruz. And while many critics have used the fight as another opportunity to accuse Trump of sexism, the frontrunner insists that the fault lies with his opponent.
“He’s the one that started it,” Trump said. “From what I hear, he and his campaign went out and bought the cover shoot. Melania did a cover shoot for GQ – a very strong modeling picture. No big deal. But it was a cover shoot for GQ, a big magazine. From what I hear, he was the one, or his campaign bought the rights and give it to the super PAC. That super PAC is friendly to Ted Cruz. He started it. I didn’t.”
That was the shot that started the war – an anti-Trump super PAC created an online ad featuring Melania Trump in the nude, challenging Utah voters as to whether or not she was fit to be first lady. Trump responded cryptically, promising to “spill the beans” on Ted’s wife, Heidi Cruz. After Cruz denied having anything to do with the original Melania ad, Trump retweeted a meme that put an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz next to his own beautiful wife. “No need to spill the beans,” read the accompanying text. “An image is worth a thousand words.”
This sent Cruz into rage mode. He said Trump was a “sniveling coward” and warned him to “stay the hell away from” his wife.
That led to yet another twist in the tale. The National Enquirer ran a story that reported – on the basis of extraordinarily thin evidence – that Ted Cruz had cheated on Heidi multiple times with multiple partners. Cruz denounced the story as baseless and accused Trump and his “henchmen” at the Enquirer of making the whole thing up. On This Week, Trump denied having anything to do with it.
“I had nothing to do with it,” Trump said. “He’s got a problem with The National Enquirer. I have no control over The National Enquirer. I had no idea about the story. I just got it last night. I had nothing to do whatsoever with The National Enquirer, neither did the campaign. For him to say I had to do with it, try and put the shoe on the other foot is disgraceful.”
One thing’s for sure. Any hope we have had for an eventual Trump/Cruz ticket is fading fast.