Photo: AP

Ted Cruz today was apparently unable to get through a thirty-minute rant about what a liar Donald Trump is without telling a lie of his own. If it wasn’t a lie, then it was either a very bad mistake, or a demonstration of intimate knowledge of Donald Trump’s penis—no real way to say.

Cruz is currently campaigning desperately through Indiana, where he is polling poorly, and his campaign stops have featured swarms of angry protesters. This morning, he reached a boiling point, holding a press conference lambasting Donald Trump as an amoral narcissist and a pathological liar. Which is fair!

But then Cruz said this: (Emphasis ours.)

Donald Trump is a serial philanderer and he boasts about it. I want everyone to think about your teen aged kids. The President of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery, how proud he is. [He] describes his battle with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam. That’s a quote, by the way, on the Howard Stern show. Do you want to spend the next five years with your kids bragging about infidelity? Now what does he do? He does the same projection, just like a pathological liar. He accuses everyone about lying.

Pretty damning, if true. But Donald Trump never said he had a “battle with venereal disease,” and what Cruz said is not, in fact, a quote Trump made on the Howard Stern show.

Trump did, in a 2004 appearance, make a comment about dating and Vietnam. But the entire point of his comment was to insist that he never caught an STD, in part because he had his personal physician check his dates beforehand.

“You know, I’ll tell you, it’s amazing, I can’t even believe it. I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world,” Trump said, when Stern asked if it was awkward to have his potential dates screened. “It is a dangerous world out there—it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era.”

“It is your personal Vietnam, isn’t it?” Stern said. “It is, you’ve said it many times.”

So Cruz got the keywords right, but mangled the message, and in doing so falsely claimed that Donald Trump admitted to having sexually transmitted diseases.

When you’re losing an election to someone who has successfully painted you as a liar—not to mention someone who wants to “open up” libel laws—you should probably be more careful in your recollection of their past statements.