If the National Enquirer is right, Ted Cruz is more than just “Lyin’ Ted”—he’s Serially Cheatin’ Ted. The tabloid has published a report claiming that Cruz has had five extramarital affairs, with his mistresses including a “foxy political consultant and a high-placed D.C. attorney.”
Now, ordinarily, we’d be skeptical of anything coming from the National Enquirer...but they happened to be right about John Edwards’ affair in 2008, a scandal that doomed his political future. On the other hand, Donald Trump has notably close ties with the tabloid’s CEO, David Pecker, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to learn that Trump—whose rise can largely be traced to his near-total domination of media coverage of the 2016 election—is leaning on the National Enquirer to fan these particular flames, regardless of whether or not they pan out.
The greater implication of what is now officially the #CruzSexScandal (it’s the top trend on Twitter as we write this) is how it will affect Cruz’s support, both by the voting public and the GOP establishment. This is becoming a big enough issue that Cruz can’t really push it under the rug, and Trump, as a full-on chaos god, is certain to take full advantage of the furor. So eventually, it seems probable that the truth will come out. And if it turns out that the Enquirer is correct, how will Cruz’s evangelical fans be able to trust him as a staunch Christian ideologue? More importantly, how will the Republican mainstream, which is already holding its nose to rally behind Cruz as the best anti-Trump candidate, continue to convince voters that this already-bad option hasn’t now become permanently and fatally damaged?
Even if the rumors turn out to be false, it seems like this only helps Trump. He’s proven more or less immune to falsehoods fact, his complete ownership of everything he says, and his unwillingness to apologize for anything, are likely a major source of his appeal. What’s one more lie in a campaign built on them? Meanwhile, Ted Cruz, lauded as “a consistent, principled conservative” by Jeb Bush of all people, probably can’t withstand attacks, even unfounded ones, upon what would appear to be his core values. All that matters is the association of “Ted Cruz” with “cheater,” which, thanks to social media, seems likely to haunt him for quite some time. The fact that Trump has alluded to his own extramarital affairs? His supporters will continue to not care about that.
We’ll have more for you as this story develops.
Update: Ted Cruz has responded the only way we would reasonably have expected him to respond.