Cruz blasts cartoon with his kids, puts daughters off-limits

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Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign fired off an angry email to supporters Wednesday, ripping into a Washington Post editorial-page cartoonist for depicting the Texas senator’s two young daughters as dancing monkeys.

The Tea Party-backed Republican also spoke out about the cartoon during a campaign stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, saying his children and the children of other candidates, regardless of party designation, shouldn’t be subjected to political attacks.

“It used to be for a long time the rules across the board, kids were off limits, and that should be the rule,” Cruz said at the Tulsa rally. “Don’t mess with our kids.”

On Twitter, Cruz slammed the animated cartoon, drawn by Pulitzer prize winner Ann Telnaes:

Post editors yanked the cartoon off the newspaper’s website but not before the image went viral on social media:

 Telnaes has not backed down and took to Twitter to defend her work and also indicate that she aims to pen a column about the dust up.

Cruz’s claim that candidates’ children have been “off limits” in years past isn’t entirely accurate.

In 2012, Republican contender Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, faced backlash for questioning whether it was proper for President Barack Obama’s 13-year-old daughter Malia to take a school trip to Mexico. Santorum referred to the State Department issuing a travel warning for Americans visiting Mexico because of violence between drug-smuggling gangs. Critics lambasted the ex-senator.

In 2008, David Shuster, a correspondent for cable-television network MSNBC, got suspended after claiming on air that Democrat Hillary Clinton was “pimping out” her 27-year-old daughter Chelsea Clinton on the presidential campaign trail.

During the 2008 presidential election, Obama didn’t shy away from introducing his children, 11 and 7 years old at the time, at campaign stops.

A New York Times report on the 2012 presidential race recalled how the girls, Malia and Sasha, were fixtures on the campaign trail four years earlier.

“They are no longer the small children who toted little pink bags with Uno cards and markers at campaign events years ago in Illinois and Iowa,” Jodi Kantor reported in the newspaper about the Obama daughters.

In an accompanying video, Kantor speculated about the importance of the Obama children:

“Without them, their father might not be president of the United States,” she said, recalling how at the start of Obama’s political career in Illinois, his advisers struggled to find a way to help him connect with everyday voters. “His adorable young daughters really helped.”

“The very first campaign trip the Obama family ever took together was designed to introduce the foursome to downstate Illinois voters who were mostly white,” Kantor said.

The daughters “became celebrities” during those early campaigns, the reporter said. In 2008, Kantor pointed out, the Obama girls were crucial for efforts to distance the candidate from his pastor at the time, the Rev. Jeremiah White, after he gained notoriety for divisive sermons.

“The Obama girls provided crucial reassurances to voters,” Kantor said. “Barack Obama wasn’t a dangerous radical; he was the wholesome dad of two sweet young daughters.”

(Courtesy - Obama campaign)

(Courtesy – Obama campaign)

More recently, Clinton has created a series of campaign ads featuring her newborn granddaughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky. The ads also appear aimed at appealing to Latino voters, generating their own share of blowback:

The Obama girls have been depicted in editorial cartoons going back to at least 2008, as well. But not as monkeys. And while Cruz blasted the Post cartoon, he included it in his email to supporters, appealing for $1 million in new campaign donations, according to NBC News.

In this year’s run up to the presidential primaries that begin in February, Cruz has featured his daughters, Caroline and Catherine, in two campaign spots, including one released last week, according to the Reuters news service. That most-recent ad showed the candidate reading stories to his girls that parody Obama policies.