Donald Trump on Tuesday linked Ted Cruz’s father to Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who fatally shot President John F. Kennedy.
“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said Tuesday morning during a phone interview on Fox News. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don't even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”
“I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump added. “It’s horrible.”
Trump’s comments repeated a National Enquirer story from last month. The tabloid published images of what it claimed showed Rafael Cruz and Oswald distributing pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963, shortly before the JFK assassination. When the Miami Herald pointed out the many problems with the National Enquirer story, a Cruz campaign spokeswoman told the Herald the claim was “another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage.”
Cruz spokeswoman Alice Stewart added: “The story is false; that is not Rafael in the picture.”
The Enquirer’s CEO has close ties to Trump, and the GOP front-runner’s relationship with the tabloid has been thrown into the spotlight this year amid other published claims that Cruz has had multiple extramarital affairs. Printed stories about Ben Carson’s alleged medical mishaps were also published before the retired neurologist dropped out of the presidential race.
But the lack of corroboration did not stop Trump or his campaign. Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson defended the claim Tuesday, pointing to the fact that the story received mainstream coverage from the Miami Herald.
“Really it was just a shock and awe that it showed up in the Miami Herald,” Pierson said during an interview with MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki.
When Kornacki asked Pierson to clarify if the Trump campaign was suggesting Cruz’s father had something to do with Kennedy’s assassination, Pierson demurred.
“Oh, I don’t know, and I think that's why it was shocking and I think why Mr. Trump mentioned it, when the Miami Herald reported it, so I guess they’re looking into that,” she responded.
Trump’s allegations came after he criticized Rafael Cruz for using his position as a preacher to court evangelical voters for his son’s presidential campaign. When Fox News showed a video clip of the elder Cruz asking “every member of the body of Christ” to vote “according to the word of God” and support his son, Trump responded by lambasting the tactic.
“I think it’s a disgrace that he’s allowed to do it. I think it’s a disgrace that he’s allowed to say it,” Trump said before reminding viewers of his own support from Jerry Falwell Jr. and other evangelicals.
“You look at so many of the ministers that are backing me, and they’re backing me more so than they’re backing Cruz, and I’m winning the evangelical vote,” Trump added. “It’s disgraceful that his father can go out and do that. And just — and so many people are angry about it. And the evangelicals are angry about it, the way he does that.”