On Wednesday morning, Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz held a press conference to forcefully defend a campaign ad Donald Trump has claimed to be defamatory.
The ad, seen below, declares “we’re just one Supreme Court Justice away from losing” the right to life, plays video of Trump saying in 1999 he was “very pro-choice” in “every respect,” then concludes, “we cannot trust Donald Trump with these serious decisions.”
The Trump campaign has responded by calling Cruz “the single biggest liar I’ve ever come across” and called Cruz’s Christianity into question for alleged dishonesty. On the specific charges, Trump claims “I have evolved” on abortion since 1999 and is now pro-life, and declares he “will appoint a great conservative,” citing Bill Pryor and Diane Sykes as potential nominees. (Of those judges, Pryor is strongly pro-life but Sykes blocked Indiana’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood in 2012.)
Trump also sent Cruz a cease-and-desist letter demanding his campaign stop running the ad and threatening to sue Cruz if he does not. In the press conference, Cruz dismissed the threat as a “frivolous lawsuit” of the sort Trump has allegedly engaged in “for [his] entire adult life,” and encouraged Trump to file it:
I look forward to any lawsuit, and let me note, by the way, one of the things I look forward to most of all, is deposing Donald Trump. For that particular endeavor, I may well not use outside counsel, I may take the deposition myself. And I will say this: whether in a deposition or a court of law, getting Donald Trump under oath, under penalty of perjury, answering these questions, well I’ll point out it didn’t work out very well for Bill Clinton.
Cruz further defended the accuracy of the ad, noting that its only specific factual claim about Trump was video of Trump’s own words, and predicting that a suit would “result in both Donald Trump and any lawyer who signs his name to the pleadings being sanctioned in court for filing frivolous litigation.”
He also took the opportunity to highlight Trump’s past suggestion that his sister would be a “phenomenal” judicial nominee despite her decision to uphold partial-birth abortion (which Trump reversed on Monday), his history of substantial donations to Democrat candidates, and his most recent debate comments that Planned Parenthood “does do wonderful things, but not as it relates to abortion.” Trump originally caught flak in August for suggesting that Planned Parenthood deserved to retain partial funding for non-abortion services, but denied he had ever said it following widespread criticism.
Cruz went on to argue that Democrats typically invest substantial political capital to push far-left-wing judicial nominees while Republicans tend to select “stealth” nominees without long records of clear positions, and suggested that as president, Trump would be likely to continue that tradition.
The Cruz campaign has also announced that not only will they not pull the ad, they intend to air it more frequently.