NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)– Ted Cruz is accusing Donald Trump of circulating false rumors about his personal life, but Trump said he has “absolutely nothing” to do with the gossip.

Trump said in a statement issued Friday that he knows nothing about the allegations on social media and in a supermarket tabloid that Cruz has cheated on his wife, Heidi.

Cruz forcefully denied the rumors on Friday, denouncing them as “garbage” and angrily accused Trump of trafficking in “slime” and “sleaze.”

“It is complete and utter lies, it is a tabloid smear.  And it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen,” Cruz said.

The Texas senator told reporters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on Friday that the Republican presidential frontrunner has taken a “darker turn.”

“I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week’s issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it,” Trump said.

Complicating the story, one of the alleged Cruz paramours is Katrina Pierson, a paid spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported. She responded on Twitter, calling the claim about her “100 percent false.”

Another woman alleged to be involved with Cruz, Amanda Carpenter, denied it when a Trump surrogate confronted her on CNN.

“What’s out there is tabloid trash. If someone want a comment they can talk to my lawyer. It is categorically false,” she told the reporter.

Asked if he plans to vote for Trump should he win the GOP nomination, Cruz says, “I don’t make a habit of supporting people who attack my wife and my family.”

On Wednesday night, Trump retweeted a meme graphic from a supporter, showing Heidi Cruz and Melania Trump with the words: “No need to spill the beans. The images are worth a thousand words.”

Cruz did not mince words in his response as he spoke while campaigning in Dane, Wisconsin Thursday.

“It’s not easy to tick me off. I don’t get mad often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that’ll do it every time,” Cruz said. “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.”

Trump hasn’t held a public event since Monday, and Cruz says the billionaire businessman is “hiding in Trump Tower” and campaigning via Twitter instead of meeting with voters.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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