Sen. Ted Cruz hammered the Washington Post on Wednesday for publishing an online editorial cartoon depicting his two young daughters as dancing monkeys, telling a crowd in Tulsa that the attack "has no place in politics."
"Not too much ticks me off, but making fun of my girls, that'll do it," Cruz said in response to the cartoon, which has since been taken down.
"It used to be for a long time the rules across the board that kids are off limits," he added. "That should be the rules. Don't mess with our kids. Don't mess with my kids. Don't mess with Marco's kids. Don't mess with Hillary's kid. Don't mess with anybody's kids. Leave kids alone And if the media wants to attack and ridicule every Republican, well that's what they're gonna do. But leave our kids alone."
"Let's argue about marginal tax rates. Let's argue about policy. But don't be attacking five year-old girls. That has no place in politics."
Cruz also tweeted a cartoon of Hillary Clinton walking her "lapdogs," the Washington Post and the New York Times.
On Tuesday, Cruz launched an "emergency" appeal seeking to raise $1 million in 24 hours in response to the cartoon.
"My daughters are not FAIR GAME," he wrote in a fundraising email sent late Tuesday. "I'm sickened ... I knew I'd be facing attacks from day one of my campaign, but I never expected anything like this."
Cruz accused the "liberal media" of attempting to "attack and destroy me (and my family) by any means necessary."
"This is an emergency — all hands on deck," his fundraising letter added. "Click here to make an instant, emergency contribution and help me fight back."
The animation by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Ann Telnaes sparked immediate controversy and was later taken down by the Post.
Telnaes also posted a tweet showing the image on Tuesday, which stated that "Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props." It was later deleted.
The cartoon — which portrayed Cruz in a Santa outfit with an organ-grinder and daughters Catherine, 4, and Caroline, 7, as monkeys — was replaced by a note from editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, explaining that it had generally been the Post's policy "to leave children out of it."
Hiatt said: "I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree."
Telnaes was herself unapologetic, posting a link on Twitter to a parody campaign ad released by Cruz's campaign which showed him reading Christmas stories to his daughters with titles such as "How Obamacare Stole Christmas" and "Rudolph the Underemployed Reindeer." That ad aired during the most recent episode "Saturday Night Live."
Cruz received support from his Republican rival Marco Rubio, who called the cartoon "disgusting."
And Donald Trump tweeted a defense of Cruz on Wednesday morning, too.
Cruz will spend Wednesday on the final day of an eight-state, 12-city "Christmas Tour."
A new national Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday put the Canadian-born Texas senator at 24 percent in the race for the GOP nomination — behind Donald Trump at 28 percent.
Last weekend, Cruz's wife, Heidi, and the couple' daughters joined him for a weekend trip through the South. While their father shook hands, his two daughters stood on stage and waved to the crowd.