Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) dared rival Donald Trump to proceed with a threatened lawsuit against the Cruz campaign over a TV ad that accuses Trump of having been pro-choice in the past.
“For that particular venture, I may not use outside counsel, I may take the deposition myself,” Cruz bragged in a press conference in South Carolina, three days ahead of the GOP primary there. Cruz is staking his South Carolina campaign on his appeal among religious voters, including evangelicals.
The TV ad running in South Carolina includes an old clip of Trump saying he’s “pro-choice in every respect.” A lawyer for Trump had sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Cruz campaign demanding it stop running the ad and threatening to sue for defamation, Cruz alleged. Here is the ad:
Cruz began Wednesday’s news conference by playing one of the clips from the ad, a 1999 Trump interview with Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” In the interview Trump said he’s “very pro-choice” and “pro-choice in every respect.”
“You have been threatening frivolous lawsuits for your entire adult life. Even in the annals of frivolous lawsuits, this takes the cake,” Cruz said at the press conference, while holding a copy of the cease-and-desist letter.
“File a lawsuit,” Cruz said in a challenge to the frontrunner. Cruz also called the cease-and-desist letter “illegal.”
“I look forward to the lawsuit,” Cruz said.
If Trump does file suit, Cruz said he would consider being personally involved. He added, “Donald Trump does not want to be under oath answering questions about his own record.
Cruz called it “a remarkable contention” that his campaign’s ad featuring a video of Trump speaking on national television could be considered defamation.
“Any first year law student can tell you truth is the absolute defense,” the freshman senator said, before launching into long explanations of four “data points” that would be a part of the lawsuit.
The first “data point” is the Russert interview. The second is Trump’s statement that his “abortion-supporting” sister would be a great Supreme Court justice. (She’s a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.)
The third point of evidence was a list of Trump’s contributions to Democratic politicians over the years. (Cruz said Trump and the people he contributed to were a “direct cause” of Obamacare.) Cruz showed the list of supporters on large-print poster board.
Here’s Poster No. 1 at the Cruz presser, which lists Democrats to whom Trump has donated: pic.twitter.com/io4WGRZEdT
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) February 17, 2016
“So the people of South Carolina should know, if Donald Trump ever became president, we would see justices consistent with his life-long” beliefs, Cruz said.
His final point returned to Trump’s more recent comments, citing a remark he made during Saturday’s GOP debate: Planned Parenthood “does do wonderful things.”