Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz is being accused of lifting a line from 1995’s The American President while defending his wife Heidi following a Twitter bout with frontrunner Donald Trump.
Responding to Trump’s warning to Cruz to “be careful” after an anti-Trump super PAC used a photo of Trump’s wife Malania posing nude for GQ in 2000 in an ad in Utah, the Texas Senator initially responded by calling Trump a “coward.”
Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “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!”
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
Cruz later responded: “Pic of your wife not from us. Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought. #classless.”
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2016
Cruz then told CNN Wednesday morning, “If Donald wants to get into a character fight, he’s better off sticking with me, because Heidi is way out of his league.”
The New York Daily News is accusing Cruz of borrowing the line from the Michael Douglas film The American President without giving it attribution.
In the film, Douglas, who plays American President Andrew Shepherd, warns Sen. Bob Rumson (Richard Dreyfuss) to leave Annette Bening’s character, Sydney Ellen Wade, out of a political dispute.
“You want a character debate, Bob? You better stick with me, ’cause Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league,” Douglas says in the film.
Heidi Cruz, who is at the center of the controversy, was reluctant to answer questions about the Trump tweet on Wednesday.
“You know, as I said, you probably know by now that most of the things that Donald Trump says have no basis in reality,” Heidi Cruz told reporters in Wisconsin, according to Politico. “So we are not worried in the least, we are focused on our campaign, and we are going to continue to do that.”
The Melania Trump Facebook ad that instigated the feud was produced by the super PAC Make America Awesome, which according to CNN has no official connection to Cruz’s campaign.