Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on Sunday that presidential nominee Donald Trump never said his wild story connecting Ted Cruz's father to the murder of Pres. John F. Kennedy was "factual information" and therefore shouldn't be held against him.
The Washington Examiner said that Priebus was giving a press conference to mark the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia when he made the absurd remarks.
"He's got a right to talk about whatever he wants to talk about, however, I don't think he was ever saying this was some sort of factual information," Priebus said. "It was something he referred to. He's talked about it, he's gotten off from it. As far as I'm concerned, we can move on from it."
In May, Trump squared off against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), his former primary opponent for the nomination, saying in an appearance on Fox News' morning show Fox and Friends that he read in the National Enquirer that Ted Cruz' father Raphael Cruz was an intimate of Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot and killed Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.
“You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being -- you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody brings it up,” Trump said.
Trump said that Rafael Cruz was photographed handing out pro-Fidel Castro literature in the streets of New Orleans with Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963.
It is worth noting that National Enquirer Executive Editor David Pecker is a close friend of the former reality TV star and real estate tycoon. Pecker endorsed Trump for the Republican nomination in March.
Trump repeated the assertions after the Republican National Convention last week in the wake of Cruz' refusal to endorse his nomination. Since the convention, Trump has said that he intends to invest millions in a super PAC to end the political careers of Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) who also declined to endorse him.
When reporters hit Priebus on Sunday with questions about the Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory, he dismissed the statements as unimportant.
"I think he mentioned it in passing and everybody glommed onto it and it became a controversy, but I think as far as the overall picture of Donald Trump," Priebus said, "I mean, that is one rhetorical issue that you can all debate until the cows come home, but it doesn't identify the Donald Trump campaign."
Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort chimed in, saying to reporters that Cruz was the person who revived the story.
"It was raised by Sen. Cruz on Friday morning after the convention, it wasn't raised by Mr. Trump," said Manafort. "Certainly, Sen. Cruz's behavior at the convention on Wednesday was disappointing, and he was commenting on Sen. Cruz's comments."