What has got Donald Trump all worked up? His wife

What has got Donald Trump all worked up? His wife's nude photo

"Lyin' Ted Cruz". Those are the words with which Donald Trump launched an attack on his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, triggering an ugly, late-night Twitter spat - over their wives.

It all started with Trump getting, well, pissed off. The anti-Trump Super PAC Make America Awesome used a semi-nude photo of his wife Melania -- taken for a GQ shoot back when she was a model in 2010 and republished recently -- in an attack ad.

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Presuming it to be the handiwork of his rival's campaign, Trump threatened to "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife. Legally, Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with the campaign of the candidate they support, but that's mere eyewash.

But after building up the suspense, all the "beans" Trump could spill was a retweet of a misogynist meme.

"Lyin' Ted Cruz" though he has turned into a weapon, repeatedly deploying it to attack Cruz on Twitter.

Cruz didn't take the insults lying down, retaliating with a barrage of tweets of his own. The first one went, "you are more of a coward than I thought."

Then Cruz, who is trailing far behind Trump in the primary race, tried to claim the moral high ground. Campaigning in Wisconsin, he simply said "real men don't attack women" when asked about the spat.

But the feud did not end there. Trump returned to Twitter to pin the blame for the spat on Cruz: "I didn't start the fight." (Just for the fun of it, while reading the tweet, imagine Trump singing "We Didn't Start the Fire".)

This is Trump's ground. No one is better at arresting attention than the eccentric billionaire. He has dominated news cycles saying inane things on the campaign trail, often pushing the boundaries of acceptable discourse. It has helped him take a commanding lead over Cruz in the primaries, every win taking him closer to the nomination.

Trump always makes it personal. He thrives on it, in fact. As Vox explains: "Cruz also had a strong news cycle after the attacks in Brussels, calling for a need to 'patrol' Muslim neighborhoods - a statement that resonated with voters who supported Trump's similarly acerbic statement about banning Muslims immigration."

In response, Trump went after Heidi Cruz.

Whenever someone has stood up against Trump, whether the anchor Megyn Kelly at the first Republican presidential debate or Marco Rubio later, Trump has responded with personal attacks. While Kelly was called a bimbo, no one can forget the sexual innuendos about "Little Marco".

Now, Trump has gone after Cruz, even starting a #LyingTed hashtag. Take a look at some of these tweets:

In the end, Cruz just told Trump to "leave Heidi alone".

"And if Donald wants to get into a character fight, he is better off sticking with me," Cruz told CNN, stealing a line from Michael Douglas, "because Heidi is way out of his league."

Of course, it didn't go without a comment from Trump.

Trumpmemtum, to steal a phrase from Vox, feeds on such nastiness to get stronger. So, expect it to only get uglier. If it too much for you sensibilities, well, you can always opt for the more restrained Clinton-Sanders slugfest.

Edited by Mehraj D. Lone

Sahil Bhalla

Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla