Although Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has been quick to turn the other cheek against his outspoken rival Donald Trump, he has few qualms about taking on the media in a campaign-themed dust-up. Indeed, a recent row with the Washington Post found Cruz hitting back against the paper’s editorial staff in short order and in a unique twist, he even garnered the public support of one of his most vocal opponents, Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
As reported by CBS News, the flap started early Tuesday when the Washington Post published a political cartoon by Ann Telnaes depicting Ted Cruz in a Santa suit. Also appearing in the one-panel comic were Cruz’s children who were attached to strings and drawn as monkeys. The caption of the cartoon read, “Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props.”
Cruz, 45, has two daughters with his wife Heidi. Their daughter Caroline is 7 and their daughter Catherine is 4. At a public event in 2013, Ted Cruz told his audience that at the age of 2, Catherine professed an interest in working with him at the U.S. Senate, as recounted in a piece by the Washington Times.
Soon after the above-noted political cartoon was published, Ted Cruz took to Twitter, chastising the Washington Post for their decision to involve his kids in political commentary.
Classy. @washingtonpost makes fun of my girls. Stick w/ attacking me–Caroline & Catherine are out of your league. https://t.co/N61ys6z8w1
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 22, 2015
Cruz also commented that the image appeared to cast his daughters as “trained monkeys.” A bit later, Marco Rubio entered the fray on the side of Ted Cruz by engaging in some virtual finger-wagging at the Washington Post.
Rubio’s defense of Ted Cruz came in the midst of a spate of campaign-trail bickering between the two men. On Saturday, CBS News noted that Cruz has repeatedly accused Rubio of supporting amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Rubio has suggested that Cruz’s characterizations of his record and positions are not accurate.
Nevertheless, both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio found it easy enough to put aside their differences when it came to facing down the Washington Post‘s controversial cartoon. Ted Cruz even thanked Rubio in a subsequent tweet.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 23, 2015
The Washington Post later retracted the strip by Ann Telnaes, replacing it with a note from Editor Fred Hiatt.
“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. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree.”
Despite the retraction, hundreds of comments have been posted to the page that originally bore the offending comic, the vast majority of which are critical of both the Washington Post and the cartoonist. One reader labeled Telnaes a “child abuser” and another called for her termination.
A biographical sketch of Ann Telnaes notes that she won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 2001.
But while the Washington Post took the cartoon down, it still lives on in cyberspace, surprisingly kept in circulation by its most ardent critic. According to CBS News, Ted Cruz sent out a fundraising e-mail later in the day that included the comic itself, framing it as an attack by the “liberal media.”
[Photo by Nicholas Pilch/Getty Images]