TULSA, Okla. - A Washington Post editorial cartoon depicting Ted Cruz's 5- and 7-year old daughters as monkeys is inappropriate, Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz said Wednesday.

The cartoon depicted the candidate as an organ grinder dressed as Santa and his daughters as dancing monkeys. The newspaper pulled the cartoon Tuesday from its website.

Speaking to reporters in Tulsa, the Texas senator said he was irritated by the cartoon. "Don't mess with anybody's kids," he said. He said he appreciated that the newspaper pulled the cartoon.

A headline on the animated cartoon, by Pulitzer Prize winner Ann Telnaes, said, "Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props" - a reference to a recent campaign video in which Cruz and his daughters spoofed familiar Christmas stories.

In a brief statement that accompanied the cartoon while it was online for several hours, Telnaes wrote that "when a politician uses his children as political props . . . then I figure they are fair game."

Fred Hiatt, the Post's editorial page editor, said in a statement that replaced the cartoon: I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree."

This article contains information from the Washington Post.