TULSA, Okla. -- A Washington Post editorial cartoon depicting Ted Cruz's 5- and 7-year old daughters as monkeys is inappropriate, and the children of candidates should be off-limits in campaigns, Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz said Wednesday.
The cartoon, which criticized Cruz for using his children in a TV ad, depicted the candidate as an organ grinder dressed as Santa and his daughters as dancing monkeys. The newspaper pulled the cartoon Tuesday from its website, saying "it's generally the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it."
Speaking to reporters in Tulsa, the U.S. senator from Texas said he generally has thick skin but was irritated after seeing the cartoon.
"Not much ticks me off, but making fun of my girls? That will do it," Cruz said. "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."
He said he appreciated the newspaper pulling the cartoon. "That was the right thing to do," he said.
Cruz is wrapping up a tour through several Southern states, with stops in Tulsa and Oklahoma City a part of his strategy of focusing on Super Tuesday states holding primaries March 1.
"It's the single largest collection of delegates awarded in one day," Cruz said.
More than 2,000 people packed the Mabee Center on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa for his morning stop, while close to 1,000 filled the student union at Oklahoma City Community College later Wednesday.
"The grassroots are on fire, and what we're seeing all across the country is conservatives are uniting behind this campaign," Cruz said.
Cruz's father Rafael Cruz, a preacher, attended both Oklahoma rallies. U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a two-term Republican congressman and tea party favorite, introduced Cruz at both events.
Cruz also campaigned in Oklahoma City and Tulsa in August.