When the National Enquirer story hit the stands last week, there was little reason to think it was anything more than an unfortunate diversion. Ted Cruz cheated on his wife with five bombshells? That…that just didn’t sound believable. Whether you’re in the “Lyin’ Ted” crowd or you believe that Cruz is the living personification of the conservative movement, does he really seem like the type of guy to do something like this? We’ve all seen our share of hypocrites driven out of office by their own bad personal decisions, but it just seems drastically out of character in this case.
But Cruz’s reaction has been puzzling.
Cruz was the one who basically gave the mainstream media the greenlight to report on the National Enquirer story. On Friday, when the story was gaining traction on social media, Cruz categorically denounced the whole thing as “garbage” before accusing Donald Trump of planting it. As odd as that move was, his response to a question in Wisconsin on Monday was even more curious. Appearing at a press conference when Carly Fiorina, Cruz was asked by a Daily Mail reporter to respond “more definitively” to the National Enquirer piece.
Rather than do that, Cruz stepped aside as Fiorina jumped in to speak for the candidate.
“This is an example of the media playing to Donald Trump’s tune,” she said. “Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, by his own admission. And in a week when we have had a terrorist attack in Brussels, a shooting at the Capitol, the president of the U.S. in the baseball stands with Raul Castro, and insisting he be photographed in front of a picture of Che Guevara with the two Castro brothers, we are talking about a scurrilous, ridiculous piece in the National Enquirer? Why? Why? Why do you dance to Donald Trump’s tune? Let’s talk about the issues.”
The reporter persisted, turning back to Cruz for the answer he was seeking. “This is a serious question about your character,” he said. He asked Cruz to deny that he had ever been unfaithful to his wife, Heidi.
“Look,” Cruz said. “I’m going to give a very brief answer to your question. Which is that the National Enquirer is complete garbage, it is total lies, it was planted by Donald Trump’s henchmen, and I don’t think the people of Wisconsin or the people of America have any interest in tabloid trash. I’m going to focus on the issues that matter.”
Now, this campaign season is moving so quickly that it’s entirely possible that Cruz will have made a statement denying any infidelity by the time this article is published. If so, great. But if not, his candidacy could be in real trouble. Americans – particularly conservatives and particularly the strong conservatives inclined to support Cruz – have little patience for this kind of deceit and hypocrisy. One of Cruz’s biggest advantages over Trump is his character. If there is even a whiff of truth to these accusations, it’s game over.