The Republican primaries have hit a new low, with an anti-Trump super PAC attacking Donald Trump’s wife, and Trump responding in kind and threatening Ted Cruz’s wife.
First the anti-Trump outfit Make America Awesome placed Facebook ads targeting Utah’s deeply religious Republican voters that featured a strategically covered nude photo of Melania Trump (picked up from a 2000 British GQ spread that the magazine recently republished) and the words: “Meet Melania Trump. Your next First Lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”
The ad is a brazen attempt to shame a woman for her choice of career. Trump has every right to stand up for his wife in the face of such sexism.
But not like this.
In an angry tweet, Trump responded: “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!”
What exactly Trump is referring to is unknown, but some have speculated he may be referring to a previously reported episode in 2005 when Heidi Cruz was picked up near a highway by a police officer who though she was a “danger to herself.” When the incident was uncovered, Cruz’s office released a statement saying “she experienced a brief bout of depression” but “came through that struggle with prayer, Christian counseling, and the love and support of her husband and family.”
Ted Cruz responded firmly, also on Twitter, noting his campaign did not produce the ad: “Pic of your wife not from us. Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought. #classless.” Trump then descended further into the gutter, retweeting an image meant to suggest his wife is better looking than Cruz’s wife.
Heidi is trying to take the high road, saying on the campaign trail, “many of the things others say are not based in reality … I have one job on this campaign, and it is to be helping Ted win this race. And it is, I think, the easiest job in the world, and that is to speak the truth.”
The ugly exchange is unsettling. But we hope that we are not entering into a new phase of political warfare in which the personal lives of candidate spouses are considered fair game.