Ted Cruz forcefully denied a tabloid story of alleged extramarital affairs, calling it "utter lies" pushed by "Donald Trump and his henchmen."
"This garbage does not belong in politics," Cruz told reporters Friday while campaigning in Wisconsin.
A National Enquirer story claimed Cruz had five affairs. Two of the women mentioned in the reported affairs have publicly denied the claims.
"It is complete and utter lies. It is a tabloid smear. And it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen," said Cruz, adding that "years from now, when my daughters Google this, they will read these lies."
Trump responded in a statement: "I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week's issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it...Cruz's problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin' Ted Cruz."
Specifically, Cruz blamed longtime Trump ally Roger Stone for placing the story, saying Stone has engaged in "50 years of dirty tricks." Stone was the sole on-the-record source in the story, though he does not hold an official title with Trump's campaign.
Cruz also tied Trump to the tabloid's CEO David Pecker, who Cruz said is "good friends" with Trump.
"The question that the people of America are going to have to answer is how low will Donald go?" Cruz said.
And one day after Cruz refused to say whether he would support Trump if the current frontrunner wins the GOP presidential nomination, the Texas senator seemingly edged closer to the outright rejection of Trump.
"I will say this, I do not make a habit out of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my family," he stated emphatically, insisting Trump "is not going to be the Republican nominee."
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."
Trump responded with a tweet threatening to "spill the beans" on Heidi Cruz late Tuesday. Then on Thursday, he 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.
Cruz and his campaign flatly reject having any connection to the super PAC that posted the original image of Melania Trump. On Friday, the senator pushed back on a reporter's assertions that both candidates were engaging in "childish" antics.
"Let's be clear - one person has been childish: Donald J. Trump," Cruz said.