Ex-Cruz aide blasts Trump for 'bodyslam' praise: Maybe I like 'people that bodyslam the president'
Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT, left) and President Donald Trump (right) on stage at a Missoula rally. Image via screengrab.

A former aide to Ted Cruz's presidential campaign on Saturday turned Donald Trump's praise for a Republican who assaulted a reporter last year against him.

Trump called Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) a "tough cookie" and joked that one should "never wrestle" with him, a reference to the time Gianforte bodyslammed The Guardian's Ben Jacobs for persistently asking him questions about healthcare while on the campaign trail in 2017.

GOP strategist and Cruz campaign manager Rick Tyler first hit back on Trump's assertion that Gianforte is "smart."

"Greg isn't very smart," Tyler said. "He could have used his words like a third-grader to answer Ben's questions but instead he violently wrings him around the neck, wrestles him to the ground and breaks the reporter's glasses."

In praising Gianforte, the strategist noted, Trump "essentially endorsed a crime."

"People that bodyslam the president — maybe that's my kind of guys," Tyler said. "Maybe people that throw tomatoes at the president, maybe those are my kind of guys. Does he really wanna get into that kind of back-and-forth?"

Watch below via MSNBC: