Ted Cruz on Washington Post cartoon: "Don't hit little girls"

Last Updated Dec 23, 2015 2:58 PM EST

Shortly before a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ted Cruz talked to reporters about the Washington Post cartoon, now retracted, that made fun of his children.

"[W]hen I saw that cartoon -- not much ticks me off -- but making fun of my girls, that'll do it. That tweet that I sent, I typed it out on my iPhone....[A]ll of us learned in kindergarten: don't hit little girls. It's not complicated. Don't make fun of a five-year-old girl and a seven-year-old girl."

On Tuesday, the Washington Post published a cartoon by Ann Telnaes, the paper's editorial cartoonist, that portrayed Cruz dressed as Santa Claus and his two daughters as trained monkeys on leashes. The caption read, "Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props."

There is an unwritten rule that children of candidates and politicians are off limits to reporters. But Telnaes had argued that Cruz was using his children as "political props" when he put them in his Christmas parody video. Therefore, she concluded "they are fair game," she wrote in her online post.

By Tuesday evening, the Post had removed the cartoon and replaced it with an editorial note saying, "It's generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it."

Speaking to a crowd of supporters at Oral Roberts University, Cruz said the cartoonist "may find herself in a padded cell" and that there would be "a whole lot of reporters and newspaper editors and journalists who have checked themselves into therapy" once he wins two terms in the White House.

"Everyone expects the mainstream media to be liberal, to be biased," Cruz said Wednesday. "Folks want to attack me, knock yourself out. That's part of the process. I signed up for that. That's fine, but my girls didn't sign up for that."

He asked the press, "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 kids. Don't mess with anybody's kids."

Cruz told reporters that he was heartened by the support he'd received from his fellow Republicans, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.

Rubio had tweeted Tuesday:

He concluded, "Let's argue about marginal tax rates. Let's argue about policy but don't be attacking five-year-old girls. That has no place in politics and I appreciate that the Post pulled it down. It was the right thing to do, and I appreciate that they pulled it."

Cruz is speaking to a rally at Oral Roberts University, then he'll address another rally at Oklahoma City Community College, before going home to Texas to spend Christmas with his family.

Cruz has sent multiple fundraising emails to supporters asking them to make a "protest donation" to tell the Post and the rest of the "disgraceful liberal media that my children, your children, and all the children in America are not props for their political attacks."

"There is something that rises up inside a man when his children are attacked -- something fierce and unstoppable," he wrote in one of the emails.