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Donald Trump associates Ted Cruz's father with JFK's assassin

May 3, 2016 at 10:18 AM

Never one to shy away from discussing unsubstantiated tabloid fodder, Donald Trump told the Fox News Channel on Tuesday morning that Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, was spotted with Lee Harvey Oswald around the time of the murder of President John F. Kennedy. 

"His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot," Trump said during a telephone interview. "I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this? Right? Prior to his being shot. And nobody even brings it up. I mean, they don't even talk about that — that was reported. And nobody talks about it."

Trump seemed to be talking about a photo published last month by the National Enquirer that shows Oswald and another man distributing pro-Castro leaflets in New Orleans in 1963. The tabloid claims that the second man is Rafael Cruz, the Republican presidential candidate's Cuban-born father, an explosive accusation that has not been corroborated, according to the Miami Herald. At the time, the Cruz campaign told the Miami Herald: "The story is false; that is not Rafael in the picture."

Related: [The Daily 202: Ted Cruz’s dad embraces an attack dog role]

Trump's timeline of this explosive accusation was rather unclear; he seemed to refer to an alleged meeting that happened before Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, and Oswald's death two days later. Trump later added: "I mean, what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting? It's horrible."

Cruz's campaign quickly denounced Trump's comments Tuesday.

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Then-presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) attacked Donald Trump on May 3, 2016, calling him a "bully", "pathological liar" and a "serial philanderer." (The Washington Post)

"Trump is detached from reality, and his false, cheap, meaningless comments every day indicate his desperation to get attention and willingness to say anything to do so," spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement. "We are campaigning on jobs freedom and security while Trump campaigns on false tabloid garbage. And the media is willfully enabling him to cheapen the value of our democratic process."

Trump suggested the Oswald-Cruz connection when asked by one of the Fox News hosts about Rafael Cruz aggressively reaching out to evangelical voters in Indiana on behalf of his son. The father recently said that not electing his son could lead to "the destruction of America." Trump said that "it is a disgrace" and "absolutely horrible" that Cruz's father is allowed to make such comments.

Related: [Rafael Cruz: My Canadian-born son can be president]

Jenna Johnson is a national political correspondent covering campaigns and voters. She previously covered the White House, 2016 presidential campaign, Maryland politics and higher education.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012. He previously was the editor of Hotline On Call, National Journal Hotline’s politics blog, and has also worked for NHK Japan Public Broadcasting and ABC News.

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