SENECA, S.C. (AP) — Ted Cruz defended his trustworthiness and aired his grievances against Republican rivals Wednesday, saying Donald Trump’s threatened lawsuit over a campaign ad would be dismissed as frivolous and Marco Rubio has no evidence to back up his claims of untoward campaigning by the Texas senator.
“Look, ethics matter,” Cruz told reporters.
The Texas senator has been fighting back against the claims from Trump and Rubio all week, but the press conference marked his most forceful and focused defense as Saturday’s South Carolina primary neared.
Cruz, who graduated from Harvard Law School and previously worked as Texas’s top lawyer, dismissed Trump’s threat earlier this week to bring a defamation lawsuit over a television ad Cruz is running. The ad in question features footage of Trump in a 1999 interview supporting abortion rights. Trump has since said he is now anti-abortion.
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But Cruz, who said he would like to take Trump’s deposition himself, said a lawsuit against the ad has no chance. Trump’s attorney sent Cruz a letter on Tuesday saying the ad was “replete with outright lies, false, defamatory and destructive statements” and Cruz could be held liable for damages if it’s not taken down.
Cruz dismissed Trump’s demands, calling it “one of the most remarkable letters I have ever read.”
“You have been threatening frivolous lawsuits for your entire adult life,” Cruz said, speaking directly to Trump. “Even in the annals of frivolous lawsuits, this takes the cake.”
Trump, who holds a strong lead in South Carolina, retorted that Cruz was a liar who is making desperate moves to inflate his campaign, which Trump said was “going up in flames.”
“I am pro-life and I do not support tax payer funding for Planned Parenthood as long as they are performing abortions,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump also repeated his threat to possibly bring a lawsuit over Cruz’s eligibility to be on the ballot, given that he was born in Canada. Cruz and legal experts have said he is eligible because his mother was a United States citizen at the time of his birth.
“Time will tell, Teddy,” Trump said in his statement.
Cruz went through a litany of other accusations that have flown back and forth between his campaign, Rubio and Trump about dirty tricks leading up to the South Carolina primary. He denied being involved with anything untoward and called for anyone with evidence to come forward.
Trump and Rubio are “repeatedly putting forth fabrications with no evidence, no basis whatsoever, just trying to throw mud and attack,” Cruz said. “The insults and the falsehoods and the fabrications have no business in politics. It is incumbent upon all of us to speak the truth.”
Rubio was asked Wednesday to come up with evidence that Cruz’s team was behind a fake Facebook page wrongly claiming that U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy had switched his endorsement from the Florida senator to Cruz.
“It’s just a pattern of people around his campaign that have continuously done things like that,” Rubio said.
Associated Press writer Steve Peoples contributed to this report.
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