Washington Post retracts cartoon depicting Ted Cruz's daughters as monkeys

Senators Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Florida, have had a contentious few weeks on the campaign trail sparring over policy positions from immigration to government surveillance in an effort to break out in a crowded GOP primary field and solidify their own support for the Republican nomination.

But just three days before Christmas, the Washington Post has brought the two senators together on a central tenet of politics -- that children are off limits.

Earlier Tuesday, The Washington Post had published a cartoon by Ann Telnaes, the paper's editorial cartoonist, that depicted Senator Cruz dressed like Santa Claus accompanied by his two daughters who are attached to strings and wearing red outfits looking like "trained monkeys" as Cruz put it.

The caption read, "Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props."

Cruz, who spent his 45th birthday Tuesday campaigning across several SEC primary states responded swiftly to the Washington Post cartoon on Twitter.

Rubio later tweeted his own disgust for the newspaper and support for Cruz.

Cruz then thanked Rubio for coming to his defense.

The Cruz campaign was also quick to turn the cartoon into a fundraising appeal to supporters, characterizing it as an attack on Cruz and his family from the "liberal media."

The first line of the email from Cruz - which includes a screen grab of the cartoon - reads, "I'm sickened...I knew I'd be facing attacks from day one of my campaign but I never expected anything like this."

The Washington Post has since taken the cartoon down. Although the headline still stood, reading, "Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props (updated with statement)," the cartoon was gone, and in its place stood this:

"Editor's note from Fred Hiatt: It's generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it. I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree."