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New York Daily News takes aim at Ted Cruz for 'New York values' insult

It looks like Sen. Ted Cruz might not live down his "New York values" insult anytime soon.

It looks like Sen. Ted Cruz might not live down his "New York values" insult anytime soon.

The Texas senator used the phrase to take down his GOP presidential rival, real estate mogul Donald Trump, but now the New York Daily News is turning the tables on the Iowa front-runner with a provocative new cover featuring the Statue of Liberty extending Cruz the middle finger. The headline "Drop Dead Ted," accompanies the image, which is a nod to the paper's legendary 1975 "Ford to City: Drop Dead" cover, which came in the aftermath of then-President Gerald Ford's refusal to bail the Big Apple out of its financial crisis at the time.

The feud between New Yorkers and Cruz began when the candidate told reporters that Trump represented "New York values" in the midst of their back-and-forth over his citizenship, and without getting into specifics, said, "They're not Iowa values and they're not New Hampshire values."

When pressed in subsequent interviews what he meant, Cruz demurred, but in Thursday night's Republican debate he doubled down on the remark, arguing that "everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro- gay-marriage, focus around money and the media."

His remarks brought about a strong rebuke from Trump, who evoked the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the city's courageous response to it as evidence of the character and class of New Yorkers. "I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made," Trump added.

WATCH: Donald Trump responds to Cruz's 'New York Values' remark

“Memo to Ted Cruz,” added New York Republican Rep. Peter King in a statement on Thursday. “New York values are the heroes of 9/11; the cops who fight terror; and the people you ask for campaign donations. Go back under a rock.” In a column published Friday in the New York Daily News, writer Mike Lupica piled on too, "Ted Cruz, who only comes here with his hand out, has decided that the most diverse city the world has ever known is filled with people who all think alike. He sounds in these moments like as slow a thinker as we have ever had run for president."

During a Friday appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Cruz's comments "very disturbing on many levels." "It was anti-American, it was not just anti-New York," Cuomo said. "He was offensive to gays, he was offensive to women ... this is the politics of division."

"I am sure now he won't take a donation from anyone in New York obviously," Cuomo added facetiously. He said that while Trump's reference to 9/11 may have been a move of political expediency, it still resonated with people. "It was a national unifying moment," the governor said about the country's reaction to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, who served as  U.S. senator from New York, chimed in too, tweeting Friday: "Just this once, Trump's right: New Yorkers value hard work, diversity, tolerance, resilience, and building better lives for our families."

Cruz has been called out repeatedly for accepting donations from wealthy New York conservatives, while publicly claiming there aren't many conservatives in Manhattan. In addition to the thousands his campaign has raised in New York, Cruz is currently being criticized for accepting $1 million in low-interest loans from big New York financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, which of based in the city, often called the financial capital of the world.

Still, some Daily News readers have reacted harshly to the paper's admittedly coarse response to Cruz. Some social media users have called the cover "disgusting," "immature" and "embarrassing." But the Daily News has been distinguishing itself as of late by naming names and calling out their foes directly on their front pages. Most recently, the tabloid has engaged in a high-profile battle with the NRA, over that organization's staunch opposition to gun control legislation:

Unfortunately for the Daily News, the increased attention has yet to turn around erosion in newspaper readership, which has led to cutbacks in staff recently and an uncertain future.