The 2016 Republican presidential race took another bizarre turn Tuesday night when a nude photo of Donald Trump's wife, Melania, surfaced in ad paid for by a SuperPAC that supports Ted Cruz.
"Meet Melania Trump, Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz on Tuesday," said the text with the photo, put up by the anti-Trump SuperPAC Make America Awesome.
The photo was shot in 2000 for a British GQ profile of Melania, who was a model and Trump's girlfriend at the time.
Trump took to Twitter to express his disgust about the ad — and to threaten Cruz about his wife, Heidi: "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!"
Cruz fired back a tweet of his own: "Pic of your wife not from us. Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you're more of a coward than I thought."
Christina Cauterucci of Slate.com reported that SuperPAC head Liz Mair sent the ad only to women in Utah, "presumably because she thought that only women would tsk-tsk Melania's supposed promiscuity, while men would salivate over her bod and register an unconscious affinity for the Trump name.''
In an appearance on CNN Wednesday morning, Cruz commented on Trump's tweet, saying Heidi is "the daughter of missionaries in Africa. She's my best friend in the world. And if Donald wants to get in a character fight, he's better off sticking with me, because Heidi is way out of his league."
But Cruz said he knew the reason Trump was so upset: "He had a very bad night last night. He got clobbered in Utah."
It seems unlikely that Trump has something on Heidi Cruz, but the irreverent Wonkette blog could not resist having some fun: "SO WHAT DOES DONALD TRUMP KNOW ABOUT HEIDI THAT WE DON'T? Is she a Democrat? Is she a secret Hill-bot who's only campaigning for her husband because she knows he's going to lose to her girl Hillz? ... Is there a sex tape? Is it with Hulk Hogan? (RELEASE THE TAPE IF SO, GAWKER. This one actually WOULD be newsworthy.)''
Liz Mair, for her part, is unapologetic about the ad. "If I'd known this ad was going to create the furor it has, I wouldn't have pulled the plug on two other, much more controversial ads we were considering in an effort to avoid rocking the boat too much,'' she told Slate in an email. "I want to beat Donald Trump, who by the way has zero problem with attacking women who appear scantily-clad in men's magazines."