The latest off-message Republican campaign story of the season has Donald Trump and Ted Cruz exchanging volleys about their wives, of all things. It’s hard to know which one of these campaigns can be tagged with, um, “starting it,” because Cruz is insisting that it was an unaffiliated PAC named Make America Awesome that issued the original tweet.
That tweet, which features a picture of Trump’s wife, Melania wearing next to nothing in an old spread for GQ magazine, issued a warning to voters: “Meet Melania Trump, your next First Lady. Or you could vote for Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”
Trump responded as only Trump can do, tweeting a cryptic message to his Texas rival:
“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!”
You know, whether you’re Team Trump, Team Cruz, or Team What the Hell is Happening, you have to admire The Donald’s unerring ability to phrase things in a way that guarantees media attention. It doesn’t matter if his dirt on Heidi Cruz is real, fictional, or somewhere in between, he’s ensured himself coverage by dropping that little hint of mystery in there. You can argue as to whether or not that’s a valuable skill for a president to have, but it’s an inarguably useful skill as a candidate.
“Well, as you probably know by now, most of the things that Donald Trump says have no basis in reality,” Heidi Cruz said in response to a reporter’s question about the tweet. “So we are not worried in the least and focusing on our campaign, and we are going to continue to do that.”
Heidi’s husband was less inclined to take the high road, responding to Trump on what is to apparently be a new, legitimate battlefield in presidential elections, Twitter:
“Pic of your wife not from us. Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought. #classless”
Which set Trump up for the final word:
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!”