Ted Cruz called Donald Trump a "sniveling coward" and told him to leave his wife "the hell alone" on Thursday after Trump retweeted an unflattering photo of his spouse, Heidi Cruz.
"It's not easy to tick me off. I don't get angry often," Cruz told reporters while campaigning in Wisconsin. "But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that'll do it every time. Donald you are a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone."
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"Our spouses and our children are off bounds," Cruz warned. "It is not acceptable for a big loud New York bully to attack my wife."
The Texas senator said Trump is scared by "strong women" and that "real men don't try to bully women."
However, Cruz declined to answer whether he would support Trump if the current frontrunner captures the GOP presidential nomination.
See photos of Cruz and Trump duking it out in debates:
The rivalry between the two got increasingly personal this week after an anti-Trump super PAC made an ad featuring a photo shoot of Melania Trump from 2000 with the meme caption: "meet Melania Trump. Your next first lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday."
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
Trump responded with a tweet threatening to "spill the beans" on Heidi Cruz late Tuesday. Then on Thursday tweeted an unflattering picture of the presidential hopeful's wife.
"Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life," Cruz responded on Twitter.
Donald, real men don't attack women. Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life. https://t.co/pprXhIMzUT
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 24, 2016
Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called Cruz's comments an "effort to gain attention to try and stay relevant in a race that he has lost."
"Mr. Trump, over the last 40 years in business, has had women in significant positions in his corporation that have done amazing work," Lewandowski said. "A number of women run his companies right now. He has excellent relationships with women."