00:45 - Source: CNN
Ted Cruz challenges Donald Trump to one-on-one debate

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Ted Cruz on Wednesday pitched himself to women voters

Cruz unveiled a "Women for Cruz" coalition featuring several of the women key to his life

Washington CNN —  

Ted Cruz on Wednesday pitched himself to women voters in Wisconsin, in the wake of a recent spat between Republican presidential rival Donald Trump over their wives and tabloid allegations.

Trump is also facing criticism for standing by his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who on Tuesday was charged with simple battery of a female reporter. And Cruz has aggressively pushed back on a National Enquirer story alleging the Texas senator had multiple affairs with unnamed women.

The “Women for Cruz” coalition features his wife, Heidi, and his mother, Eleanor, a lesser-seen presence on the campaign trail that has used his father, Rafael, as a prominent surrogate.

“This event this morning is a celebration of strong women,” Cruz said. “Listen, I have news for the Democratic Party: Women are not a special interest. Women are a majority of the United States of America and every issue is a women’s issue.”

Trump hardly came up at Wednesday’s rally, but Cruz’s team is aware that the timing helps them make a contrast with other campaigns.

Trump’s approach to women’s issues is likely to continue to generate news coverage. Trump on Wednesday said that women who undergo abortions should face “some form of punishment” if the procedure were outlawed, according to excerpts of an MSNBC town hall that is scheduled to air Wednesday evening.

“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said in the town hall.

Trump declined to specify how women should be punished if abortion were banned and they underwent the procedure.

CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.