Photo: AP

“When we started, there were 17 candidates in this race,” Ted Cruz told WTMJ radio host Charlie Sykes on Wednesday. “It was a wonderfully diverse, talented, dynamic, young field. It had really incredible talent. If you look at a number of the candidates that took on Donald Trump early on, they ended up as roadkill.”

Just a few months ago, Cruz was sucking up to the Republican frontrunner.

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But after Trump started talking smack about Heidi Cruz, Ted’s wife, the Texas senator got tough: “It’s not easy to tick me off. I don’t get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that’ll do it every time.”

“Donald, you’re a sniveling coward,” he said, addressing reporters. “Leave Heidi the hell alone.”

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Cruz explained that his early deference was simply a matter of strategy. “Our objective was simple from the beginning, it is to win this race, to win the nomination and then beat Hillary Clinton and turn this country around,” he said Wednesday. “And not be roadkill,” he added. “I am very strongly committed on the anti-roadkill approach.”