This presidential primary season has seen new standards set for vulgarity and combativeness between candidates. The latest one came on 'Western Tuesday', when current Republican front-runner Donald Trump seemed to make a veiled threat to Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi, on Twitter.
Apparently angry about a Facebook ad targeting Mormons which showed a picture of Trump's wife, Melania, posing naked, Trump tweeted:
"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!"
Let's be clear: The insults toward candidates' spouses have been emanating, more or less, from one source throughout the entire campaign: Trump. His insult toward Heidi Cruz is particularly egregious, but he also insulted Jeb Bush's wife in July 2015 and has, of course, attacked Bill Clinton -- although the latter was a sitting president and so is less immune to criticism.
Trump's insult irked Cruz, who tweeted back:
"Pic of your wife not from us. Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you're more of a coward than I thought. #classless."
Regardless of whether or not the ad featuring Melania Trump originated from the Cruz campaign or not, Trump doubled down on the insult March 23 when he retweeted a somewhat-unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz next to a glamor shot of Melania, as if to say, "My wife is hotter than yours, Lyin' Ted." The image can be seen on Mediaite.com.
It's very hard to imagine that this is going to hurt Trump with people who already support him; if getting into a rhetorical battle with the Pope didn't do it, then neither will this. Trump is clearly the only candidate who is able to make these childish insults stick in a fashion that doesn't hurt his poll numbers.
And yet this incident shows that Trump, now ostensibly a front-runner and getting ready to shift to the general election, seems to be incapable of acting presidential without someone or something getting under his skin.
It also shows that Trump is seemingly doing everything he possibly can to drive potential female voters to the Democrats, and his "my wife is hotter than your wife!" stunt is only going to increase that possibility.