Ted Cruz: Trump is a ‘sniveling coward’

Updated

Ted Cruz called Donald Trump a “sniveling coward” and told him to leave his wife “the hell alone” on Thursday after Trump retweeted an unflattering photo of his spouse, Heidi Cruz.

“It’s not easy to tick me off. I don’t get angry often,” Cruz told reporters while campaigning in Wisconsin. “But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that’ll do it every time. Donald you are a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.”

“Our spouses and our children are off bounds,” Cruz warned. “It is not acceptable for a big loud New York bully to attack my wife.”

The Texas senator said Trump is scared by “strong women” and that “real men don’t try to bully women.”

RELATED: Examining Trump’s problem with women voters

The rivalry between the two got increasingly personal this week after an anti-Trump super PAC made an ad featuring a photo shoot of Melania Trump from 2000 with the meme caption: “meet Melania Trump. Your next first lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”

Trump responded with a tweet threatening to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz late Tuesday. Then on Thursday tweeted an unflattering picture of the presidential hopeful’s wife.

“Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life,” Cruz responded on Twitter.

Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called Cruz’s comments an “effort to gain attention to try and stay relevant in a race that he has lost.”

“Mr. Trump, over the last 40 years in business, has had women in significant positions in his corporation that have done amazing work,” Lewandowski said. “A number of women run his companies right now. He has excellent relationships with women.”

This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz: Trump is a 'sniveling coward'

Updated