Cruz tears into Washington Post for cartoon of daughters as monkeys

The Washington Post pulled a political cartoon Tuesday night depicting GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s school-age daughters as monkeys and him as an organ grinder after an outcry from Cruz supporters and rivals.

The cartoonist, Ann Telnaes, said initially that although “there is an unspoken rule in editorial cartooning that politician’s children are off-limits,” she felt that Cruz’s use of them in a political ad reading mock Christmas classics made them “fair game.” Cruz daughters Caroline, 7 and Catherine, 5, are sitting with their parents in a campaign ad as the Texas senator reads Christmas parodies such as: “How ObamaCare Stole Christmas," and "The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails." - slams at the federal health care law Cruz rails against and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is also running for president.

Cruz first reacted to the cartoon in a tweet telling the newspaper to back off his children and focus on him. “Classy. . .Stick w/ attacking me -- Caroline & Catherine are out of your league."

During a campaign swing through Southern states that have their primaries on March 1, Super Tuesday, Cruz told a crowd in Tulsa: “Not too much ticks me off, but making fun of my girls, that'll do it.”

"It used to be for a long time the rules across the board that kids are off limits. That should be the rules,” he said. “Don't mess with our kids. Don't mess with my kids. Don't mess with Marco's kids. Don't mess with Hillary's kid. Don't mess with anybody's kids. Leave kids alone. And if the media wants to attack and ridicule every Republican, well that's what they're gonna do. But leave our kids alone."

He concluded, "Let's argue about policy. But don't be attacking five year-old girls. That has no place in politics."

Despite referring to Clinton’s daughter in a conciliatory manner, Cruz took off after the Democratic front-runner herself in a tweet that showed her walking her “lapdogs,” the Washington Post and the New York Times.

The Washington Post pulled the cartoon and in its place posted an editor’s note. "It's generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it," Post editor Fred Hiatt said in a statement. "I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree."

The ad caused a firestrom on social media and GOP candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also the father of young children, tweeted that the cartoon was “disgusting.”

Cruz then thanked him in a tweet. Wednesday morning former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida also decried the cartoon in a tweet and on Fox News.

The cartoonist, a Pulitzer Prize winner, did not apologize but said in a tweet she would not comment more than what the editor had posted in place of her cartoon. She added that she planned to write about it but gave no details.

Cruz also sent out a fund raising “money bomb” appeal based on the cartoon, asking supporters to help him raise $1 million in 24 hours: “Will you help me fend off this vicious attack on my daughters by making an instant, emergency donation?”