The war of words between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz reached a new fever pitch on Thursday, with Cruz calling his GOP rival a "sniveling coward" after the real-estate mogul re-tweeted an insult aimed at the Texas senator's wife.
The latest swipe at Heidi Cruz's appearance comes after an anti-Trump superPAC ran a Facebook ad campaign in Utah using a photo of Melania Trump, a former model, posing partially nude.
On Tuesday evening, Trump attacked Cruz for the ad, threatening on Twitter, "Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!" Cruz has disavowed the ad from the unaffiliated "Make America Awesome" superPAC. "Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life," Cruz tweeted back Tuesday evening.
Campaigning Thursday afternoon in Wisconsin, which holds its GOP primary on April 5th, Cruz went even further on the attacks against his GOP rival after the latest volley from Trump against his wife Heidi, a former Goldman Sachs executive.
"It's not easy to tick me off. I don't get angry often," Cruz told reporters after touring a manufacturing plant in Dane, Wis. "But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that'll do it every time. Donald, you are a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone."
"Our spouses and our children are off bounds," the Texas senator continued, saying he wasn't looking forward to explaining the attacks against their mother to his two young daughters. "It is not acceptable for a big loud New York bully to attack my wife."
Reporters peppered Cruz with questions about whether he would still back Trump if he's the nominee, but Cruz dismissed such a scenario.
"I'm going to beat him," he maintained. "Donald Trump will not be the nominee."
Cruz argued that Trump's defense mechanism against any type of criticism had become late-night Twitter tirades and suggested Trump especially bristled at any criticism from women.
"Donald does seem to have an issue with women," Cruz said. "Donald doesn't like strong women."
Trump's language and treatment of women has become a particular flashpoint during the campaign, and it's one another anti-Trump group, Our Principles PAC, has already made into a campaign ad. And given the necessity of winning over female voters and the prospect of running against Hillary Clinton in the general election, the latest comments from Trump are sure to only concern GOP strategists even more.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, another woman Trump has repeatedly sparred with and attacked, had a one-word response to his latest hit on Heidi Cruz — "seriously?"