Donald Trump, while feuding with Rosie O'Donnell in the mid-2000s, mocked her struggle with depression, an insult which temporarily ended their very public war of words and which Trump boasted about weeks later in a speech as an example of how to "get even."
Over the past week, Trump has turned his attention toward Ted Cruz's wife. He retweeted a crude meme comparing Heidi Cruz and Melania Trump. And Trump has threatened to "spill the beans" on Heidi Cruz — which many have interpreted as a reference to her struggle with depression in the 2000s. The Trump campaign in recent days has pointed, belatedly, to Heidi Cruz's work on the Council on Foreign Relations, and other Washington groups.
An early episode of Trump's very public and vicious treatment of women occurred in 2006 and 2007, when he was engaged in a now-infamous feud with O'Donnell which began when she criticized his handling of the Miss USA pageant. The two traded barbs over several months, with Trump attacking O'Donnell's physical appearance in the cruelest of terms.
But their already nasty feud took on an even darker tone when Trump mocked O'Donnell's revelation that she suffered from depression.
"If I looked like Rosie, I'd struggle with depression too," Trump told Entertainment Tonight.
The remark ended the months long back-and-forth, with O'Donnell responding on The View, saying, "The guy, he can't get over me, that's all I can say. Never mention that dump truck again."
Trump referenced the diss a few weeks later in a speech in Toronto as an example of how to get even.
"She announced last week that she suffers from depression. They called me for a comment, and rather than saying 'I have no comment' or 'isn't that too bad oh, that's so bad,' I said, 'I think I can cure here depression,' — most of you heard this. 'If she stopped looking in the mirror, I think she'd stop being so depressed.'"
He continued, "And they said, 'It's a horrible statement, it's a horrible statement.' What's so horrible about it? She attacks me. She said I had terrible hair. You know, it's amazing. She calls me comb-over, she calls me — but we're not allowed to attack."
Trump then said that when O'Donnell was asked about his remark, she said, "I have no comment, I have no comment about him."
"Get even," Trump said to the cheering crowd. "When somebody screws you, screw the back in spades. I really mean it. I really mean it. You've got to hit people hard and it's not so much for that person, it's other people watch."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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