By Ginger Gibson
WASHINGTON - Republican Ted Cruz said on Friday an article in the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper accusing him of extramarital affairs was "garbage, complete and utter lies" and accused his opponent Donald Trump of being the source of the story.
"It's tabloid smear, and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen," Cruz told reporters at a press conference in Wisconsin, as the battle for the Republican presidential nomination reached new levels of personal rancor.
A spokeswoman for Trump, the front-runner in the race for the nomination, rejected Cruz's accusation his campaign was behind the article. "There is zero truth to that," said Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, in response to Cruz's charge. The National Enquirer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Cruz said the story was evidence that Trump is unfit to be president. "This man would be an embarrassment," Cruz said.
The National Enquirer, a tabloid known for its gossip and unflattering celebrity photos, published blurred images of five women with whom it said Cruz has had affairs. The newspaper did not name the women. Cruz is married to Heidi Cruz, who was campaigning with him on Friday.
The article exploded on the social media site Twitter overnight on Thursday.
Trump and Cruz have sparred in recent days about their respective wives. Earlier this week Trump accused Cruz of posting a nude photo of Trump's wife, Melania, on Twitter. Trump responded by threatening to "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson, Susan Heavey and Patrick Rucker; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Steve Orlofsky)