US Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has accused party rival Donald Trump of being behind a National Enquirer story that alleged the Texas senator has had extra marital affairs with five women.
The article, which set the media abuzz, does not quote any of the alleged women involved, nor does it mention their names.
“It is garbage, complete and utter lies,” Cruz said at a press conference in Wisconsin on Friday. “It is a tabloid smear and it has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.”
“This garbage does not belong in politics,” the senator added. “Donald is fond of giving people nicknames. With this pattern he should not be surprised to see people calling him sleazy Donald.”
“This man would be an embarrassment,” the candidate said. “We don’t want a president that traffics in sleaze and slime.”
David Pecker, the chief executive of the National Enquirer, is reportedly friends with Trump and his tabloid has endorsed the real estate mogul.
Trump and Cruz have in recent days engaged in an intensifying war of words over their wives.
Earlier this week, Trump threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife, Heidi, following the publication of a decade-old nude photo of his own wife, Melania, when she was a model, which the billionaire businessman attributed to the Cruz campaign.
He subsequently tweeted side-by-side images of Cruz’s wife and his own spouse, saying, “No need to spill the beans. The images are worth a thousand words.”
The Republican race has been marred by scandals, mudslinging and onstage vulgarity, with rivals leaving no stone unturned to push each other down the gutter.
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders also lambasted Trump over the Republican frontrunner’s series of attacks on women.
“The American people will not vote for a presidential candidate who insults women every day, who insults veterans and who insults African-Americans,” Sanders said Friday during a rally in Portland, Oregon.
The Vermont senator frequently criticizes Trump at his campaign rallies, and points to polls that show he has a better chance of defeating Trump in general election match-ups than Hillary Clinton.