Within a few minutes, he tweeted a new version with the same not-so-veiled threat.
Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
The tweet appears to be a reference to an ad that is not from Cruz but from an anti-Trump group. As BuzzFeed reported on Monday, the group, Make America Awesome, is running ads targeting Mormon voters in Tuesday’s Utah primary.
Among the ads is this one:
It is indeed from a 15-year-old photo shoot for GQ magazine, which included Melania Trump posing inside Trump’s private jet.
It’s not clear why Trump deleted the tweet in the first place, though he’s been known to delete tweets with typos — which the initial tweet had — and replace them.
You gotta have Lyin’ Ted in there somewhere. Framing matters.— Blake News (@blakehounshell) March 23, 2016
It's also not clear what “beans” there are to spill on Cruz’s wife, Heidi. Heidi Cruz left a job at Goldman Sachs to support Ted Cruz’s presidential bid, and her struggle with depression (and one acute episode in particular) have been previously reported. Trump consistently brags about having done no polling, and it’s not clear that his team has done basic opposition research, so the odds are decent that the apparent threat may be nothing more than something Trump heard.
Trump hasn’t been shy about looping spouses into his political attacks. Earlier this year, he criticized Bill Clinton’s transgressions while in office, as a response to Hillary Clinton’s comments about Trump’s treatment of women. He’s also been known to cast vague charges at his opponents, so there may be no beans at all. If past practice is any guide, we can expect this topic to come up again, soon.
Cruz’s campaign responded shortly after the tweet, calling Trump a “coward” and “#classless,” and noting his campaign wasn’t behind the ad.
Make America Awesome’s Liz Mair tweeted that Trump had been attacking Heidi Cruz “for weeks.”
Donald Trump is so desperate to beat Cruz that his team has been pushing around rumors she's a criminal w a mental illness for weeks now.— BeingSuedByDevinNunes (@LizMair) March 23, 2016
This appears to be a reference to the depressive episode mentioned above, when police in Austin encountered Heidi Cruz by the side of a highway, distraught.
(Very typically for a political consultant, she also took credit in advance for a bad performance on Tuesday night by Trump.)