Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has accused his rival Ted Cruz of belonging to a family with links to Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of JFK.
Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, has been seen in a photo standing next to alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald just days before the ‘assassin’ was assassinated himself.
Ted Cruz has replied to the allegationscalling them “nuts” and sarcastically admitting that his father was Elvis Presley in disguise and did indeed kill JFK and Jimmy Hoffa and buried the latter’s body in their garden.
The startling allegation came on the morning of a crucial primary election in Indiana where Mr Trump is seeking to land a knockout blow against his chief challenger for their party’s nomination.
Mr Trump, parroting a recent story by the National Enquirer tabloid, took to Fox News to say the Texas senator’s father, Cuban immigrant Rafael Cruz, was “with Lee Harvey Oswald” before the assassination.
“I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this? Right prior to his being shot, and nobody brings it up,” said Mr Trump.
“I mean, what was he doing – what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death – before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
The Enquirer, which has publishedprevious stories deeply critical of Mr Cruz, said an August 16, 1963 photograph of Oswald in New Orleans handing out leaflets in support of Fidel Castro shows a young Rafael Cruz nearby.
Oswald was killed November 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy’s assassination.
Rafael Cruz was once a supporter of rebel leader Castro, but says in his biography “A Time for Action” that he was unaware Castro was a communist, according to the Miami Herald.
The newspaper said there was no corroborating evidence that Rafael Cruz – who is now fervently anti-communist – was affiliated with Oswald and that, according to the Cruz campaign, the candidate’s father is not in the photograph.
Mr Trump’s remarks incensed Ted Cruz, who delivered a blistering takedown of the celebrity billionaire.
“Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK,” a visibly angry Mr Cruz said at a campaign event in Indiana.
“Let’s be clear, this is nuts,” he said. “Yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.”
Mr Cruz slammed Mr Trump for several minutes unabated.
“This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies,” Mr Cruz added, comparing Mr Trump to a schoolyard bully and saying the real estate mogul boasts of being a “serial philanderer”.
“The man is utterly amoral,” Mr Cruz said. “Bullies come from a deep, yawning cavern of insecurity.”
Mr Cruz sees Indiana as one of the final firewalls where he could stop Mr Trump from seizing the Republican nomination.
“Indiana can pull us back, but it takes Hoosiers showing up and voting today, and the country is looking to Indiana, is looking to the judgment of the good men and women of this state,” Mr Cruz said.
The two men are battling it out for Indiana’s 57 Republican delegates. If Mr Trump sweeps them, he will be on track to reach the 1,237 necessary to win the nomination outright.