So far in this campaign cycle, Donald Trump has encouraged his supporters to assault protesters, insulted everyone from John McCain to Megyn Kelly, and bragged about the size of his “hands,” all while paying little to no political price. On Wednesday, the Republican front-runner pushed the limits of acceptable behavior further by threatening to to “spill the beans” about Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, after an anti-Trump super-PAC ran an ad featuring a nude photo of Trump’s wife, Melania Trump.
As recently as December, Trump and Cruz refrained from attacking each other, sparking a political “bromance” between the two candidates, with Trump largely refusing to insult Cruz, and Cruz chiding the Republican establishment for wanting a “cage match” between the two. “@realDonaldTrump is terrific,” hetweeted back then. But their cordiality cracked in January, when Cruz attacked Trump’s “New York values.”Their relationship deteriorated rapidly after that, as Cruz notched several primary wins over Trump, emerging as his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination.
Any hope of reconciliation disappeared earlier this week after the anti-Trump super-PAC Make America Awesome launched a provocative ad in Utah, a heavily Mormon state that held its caucus Tuesday, featuring an image of Melania, from a 2000 photo shoot, recently re-published by the British edition of GQ, showing the potential future First Lady posing provocatively aboard her then-boyfriend’s private jet, “wearing handcuffs, wielding diamonds, and holding a chrome pistol.”
Apparently believing that his nemesis, “Lyin’ Ted,” was behind the ad, a furious Trump responded Tuesday night, as Utah voters handed a decisive victory to Cruz, by threatening to “spill the beans” about the Texas senator’s wife.
CNN’s Brian Stelter noted that Trump initially deleted the tweet, but evidently changed his mind and immediately reposted it.
Cruz appeared to take the threat seriously, saying that the photo was not from his team and defending his wife. “If you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought,” he tweeted back Tuesday. Liz Mair, the consultant in charge of Make America Awesome, confirmed that Cruz had nothing to do with the ad and said that “literally anyone” with Google could have found the image.
Mair also suggested that the Trump team was using the ad as a pretext to smear Heidi, possibly for her reported history of depression. The Cruz campaign has already publicly acknowledged that Heidi suffered a “brief bout with depression” when she gave up a high-powered career in Washington to follow Cruz to Texas after he was appointed to be the state’s solicitor general. (That history came to light after BuzzFeed obtained a police report, from 2005,, describing an incident where a distraught Heidi was found wandering along a Texas expressway, reportedly posing a “danger to herself.”) It’s also possible, Mair hinted, that the Trump team wanted to go one step further and accuse Heidi of “criminal” behavior, possibly dating back to her time working for Goldman Sachs, which Trump has criticized in the past.
Even with Mair taking the heat for the ad, Trump refused to believe that Cruz was not behind the photo,tweeting on Wednesday: “Lyin’ Ted Cruz denied that he had anything to do with the GQ model photo post of Melania. That’s why we call him Lyin’ Ted!”