Anderson Cooper mocked Donald Trump’s defense of his attacks on Ted Cruz’s wife as “the argument of a 5-year-old” in a tense exchange at CNN’s town hall on Tuesday night.
Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, said in a tweet last week that he would “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz. Trump then retweeted an unfavorable picture of Heidi Cruz next to a photo of his wife, reducing both spouses to their physical looks.
When Cooper asked Trump about the “unflattering” retweet on Tuesday, Trump rejected the premise of his question.
“I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi. I thought it was fine,” Trump said.
“Come on,” Cooper responded.
“I thought it was fine. She’s a pretty woman,” Trump said.
“You’re running for president of the United States,” Cooper said.
“Excuse me. Excuse me. I didn’t start it,” Trump said, eliciting a groan from the crowd on hand. “I didn’t start it.”
“With all due respect, that’s the argument of a 5-year-old,” Cooper said. “The argument of a 5-year-old is ‘He started it.'”
“You would say that,” Trump said. “That’s the problem with our country.”
“Every parent knows a kid who says ‘He started it,'” Cooper said.
“Excuse me. No no. That’s the problem. Exactly that thinking is the problem this country has,” Trump said. “I did not start this. He sent out a picture and he knew very well about the picture.”
That “picture” refers to a racy photo of Trump’s wife Melania that was featured in an ad sent out by an anti-Trump Super PAC. Trump has accused Cruz’s campaign of working with the Super PAC—a federal election crime—without providing any evidence.
“Do you have proof that he sent it out?” Cooper asked.
“Everybody knows he sent it out,” Trump said. “He knew the people in the Super PAC. I would be willing to bet he wrote the phrase, ‘Would you like to have this as your First Lady?'”