Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday morning said that his family should be off limits, a day after The Washington Post published (and subsequently retracted) a cartoon depicting him as an organ grinder dressed in a Santa suit and his young daughters as monkeys clad in similar attire.
Speaking to reporters in Oklahoma on Wednesday, Cruz said that he appreciated that the Post removed the article after the outcry Tuesday evening. “It was the right thing to do,” he said.
The cartoon by Ann Telnaes, which originally ran under the headline “Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props,” came after the Texas senator featured his two young daughters in a campaign commercial aired during last week’s “Saturday Night Live” in which he read fake Christmas stories to them, with titles like “How Obamacare Stole Christmas
“It’s generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it. I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published,” editor Fred Hiatt said in a statement that replaced the cartoon. “I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree.”
Donald Trump, the only candidate polling ahead of Cruz in most state and national polls, weighed in on the episode, using it as an opportunity to attack The Washington Post’s corporate ownership.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2015
Cruz has capitalized on the controversy, sending a fundraising email to supporters Wednesday morning with the subject line, “They attacked my children.” The message included the cartoon, and said, “I’m sickened…I knew I’d be facing attacks from day one of my campaign, but I never expected anything like this.”
The message hit on Cruz’s persistent theme of going after the media to shore up support. “This shows you EXACTLY how desperate the liberal media is to attack and destroy me (and my family) by any means necessary,” the email said. “This is an emergency — all hands on deck. Click here to make an instant, emergency contribution and help me fight back.”
On Wednesday afternoon, he tweeted his own take on the cartoon, which depicted Hillary Clinton walking two dogs marked with the logos for The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Seems like a better idea for a cartoon: Hillary and her lapdogs. pic.twitter.com/dou9c7fS4U
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 23, 2015
Cruz, speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, also commented on a POLITICO story published Wednesday morning in which he was quoted as saying that fighting gay marriage would not constitute a “top-three” priority as president.
“No,” Cruz told the donor, according to audio provided to POLITICO. “I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority. And that cuts across the whole spectrum — whether it’s defending [the] First Amendment, defending religious liberty.” A spokesman for Cruz said in the story that his comments were “nothing new” and “nothing different from what he says all the time.”
The senator drove home that point with reporters, remarking that it was ” almost word for word what I said on Jay Leno, it’s almost word for word what I said on Stephen Colbert.”
As the report from Mike Allen noted, during his 2013 appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Cruz said: “I support marriage between one man and one woman. … But I also think it’s a question for the states. Some states have made decisions one way on gay marriage. Some states have made decisions the other way. And that’s the great thing about our Constitution, is different states can make different decisions depending on the values of their citizens.”
On Colbert earlier this year, as POLITICO documented in its initial reporting, Cruz said, “The 10th Amendment says: ‘If it doesn’t mention it, it’s a question for the states.’”
In neither of those instances, however, was the question framed in whether he would make it a “top-three” priority.
“I know Colbert may not have a ton of viewers, but saying it on national TV is not a great plan for keeping something secret,” Cruz said Wednesday, adding that he was amused by the comments of an anonymous adviser from a rival campaign who said Cruz “sounds different from behind closed doors.”
“No one should be surprised,” Cruz said. “The dynamic that we’re seeing in this race is that conservatives are uniting behind our campaign.”
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