EVANSVILLE, Ind., May 3 (UPI) -- Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Tuesday fired back at Donald Trump over the businessman's new claims that the Texas senator's father was once aligned with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald during the 1960s.
Cruz's remarks came not long after Trump repeated a claim in the National Enquirer tabloid that Rafael Cruz once joined Oswald in support of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro before Kennedy's November 1963 assassination.
"His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being -- you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous," Trump told Fox News Tuesday. "And nobody even brings it up. They don't even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it."
Cruz didn't waste much time in firing back. At a Tuesday news conference in Evansville, Ind., he let Trump have it.
"Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK," Cruz said incredulously before a long pause. "Let's be clear. This is nuts!"
Cruz continued with the verbal assault, calling the billionaire businessman "amoral" and a "pathological liar."
"This is not a reasonable position, this is just kooky. And while I'm at it I guess I should just go ahead [and say], 'yeah my dad killed JFK. He is secretly Elvis and [missing labor leader] Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his back yard,'" he added, visibly upset, with running mate Carly Fiorina and wife Heidi at his side.
The Enquirer ran a photo last month with a story titled, "Ted Cruz's Father -- Caught With JFK Assassin," that claimed Rafael Cruz was photographed next to Oswald in 1963 handing out pro-Cuba literature.
Cruz has said the man in the picture is not his father.
"The National Enquirer is tabloid trash, but it's run by [Trump's] good friend David Pecker, the CEO," Cruz said, adding that the tabloid has in the past targeted his family, including Heidi Cruz. "So the National Equirer has become his hit piece that he uses to smear anybody and everybody."
Trump also criticized Rafael Cruz, a pastor, for using the pulpit to seek evangelical votes for his son.
"I think it's a disgrace that he's allowed to do it," Trump said. "I think it's a disgrace that he's allowed to say it."
"You look at so many of the ministers that are backing me, and they're backing me more so than they're backing Cruz, and I'm winning the evangelical vote," Trump continued. "It's disgraceful that his father can go out and do that. And just -- and so many people are angry about it. And the evangelicals are angry about it, the way he does that."
In a video clip aired by Fox News, Rafael Cruz says, "I implore, I exhort every member of the body of Christ to vote according to the word of God and vote for the candidate that stands on the word of God and on the Constitution of the United States of America. And I am convinced that man is my son, Ted Cruz.
"The alternative could be the destruction of America."
"Listen, my father has been my hero my whole life. My dad was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba. When he came to America, he had nothing," Ted Cruz said Tuesday.
At that point in the news conference, Cruz figuratively took off the gloves in his fight with Trump, who regularly refers to the senator as "Lyin' Ted Cruz".
"I'm going to do something I haven't done for the entire campaign ... I'm going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump," he said. "This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies, practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think comes straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying. ... The man cannot tell the truth but he combines it with being a narcissist -- a narcissist at a level I don't think this country has ever seen."
"Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, 'dude, what's your problem?'" he continued. "If you hooked him up to a lie detector test, he could say one thing in the morning, one thing at noon and one thing in the evening -- all contradictory -- and he would pass the lie detector test each time.
"The man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him ... Donald is a bully."
Cruz made his remarks as Indiana polls opened for Tuesday's primary. An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll Sunday showed Trump with about 49 percent of likely Indiana GOP voters -- compared with 34 percent for Cruz and 13 percent for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Trump is up in the state's polls by an average of 9.3 percentage points, according to RearClearPolitics. The average includes eight polls taken between April 13-29.