Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) fired back at GOP primary opponent Donald Trump Wednesday for his tweet threatening to "spill the beans" about his wife Heidi, saying Trump should stick with him in a character debate because his wife was "way out of his league."
Trump, according to CNN, was responding "to a Facebook advertisement targeted to Mormons that shows Trump's wife, Melania, posing nude." It was produced by the anti-Trump Super PAC Make America Awesome, which is not connected to the Cruz campaign.
Cruz angrily responded on Twitter the night before, saying he had nothing to do with the photo and calling Trump a "coward."
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2016
CNN host Chris Cuomo said it appeared Trump was "baiting" him as he interviewed Cruz.
"He blames you," Cuomo said. "You took the bait and responded and called him more of a coward than you thought. Do you believe that is taking you in the direction you need to be to beat Donald Trump with any kind of broad-based coalition you're looking to build?"
Cruz repeated he had nothing to do with the ad, and he said Trump's response revealed a lot about his "character."
"When Donald gets scared, when he gets angry, when he's threatened, he begins yelling, he begins screaming, he begins often cursing, and he begins trying to be a bully," Cruz said. "So last night Donald threatened my wife. He went directly after my wife.
"And I've got to tell you that, number one, Heidi, my wife, she is the daughter of missionaries in Africa. She is my best friend in the world, and if Donald wants to get in a character fight, he's better off sticking with me, because Heidi is way out of his league."
Cruz's wording was mindful of Andrew Shepherd in Aaron Sorkin's The American President, who delivers a speech at the end of the movie slamming his political opponent that has lobbed personal attacks at his girlfriend.
"You want a character debate, Bob? You better stick with me, 'cause Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league," he says.
Cruz is a noted movie buff.
He might not appreciate this particular comparison. In the same scene, Sorkin's typically over-the-top liberal character makes the strange assertion that his Republican opponent should embrace the ACLU and announces his intention to "get the guns" from the American people in the name of national security.