GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), appearing on Chad Hasty’s radio program in Texas, hammered former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush over their weakness when it comes to standing up to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“First of all let me say that this Iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic,” Cruz said when asked to respond generally to President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran and specifically to Romney’s criticism of his remarks hammering Obama on the deal.
It poses the gravest national security threat to this country of anything we are facing. Why? For several reasons. One, if it goes through, hundreds of billions of dollars will flow to Iran that they will use to fund radical Islamic terrorism to murder Americans. Two, because it leaves four American hostages languishing in Iran. The last American president to leave American hostages languishing in Iran, Jimmy Carter, that weakness and appeasement profoundly weakened America. But three, this deal accelerates Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons and they have pledged to use those nuclear weapons. The Ayatollah Khameini routinely leads chants of “Death to America.” And if history teaches anything, it is that when somebody tells you they want to kill you, you should believe them.
From there, Cruz specifically pointed out the flaws in Romney and Bush’s comments.
“It’s interesting in the past couple of weeks we’ve seen both Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush—both of them—talking about ‘now take it easy guys, you don’t really need to oppose this Iranian nuclear deal quite so forcefully,’” Cruz said.
You know it’s interesting, two days ago or three days ago, President Obama was in Africa and he chose to attack me directly for saying that if this deal goes through, the Obama administration will become the leading global financier of radical Islamic terrorism. He attacked me personally, but you know what he didn’t do? He didn’t disagree with the facts. Here are the facts: Iran is today the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. That’s fact number one.
Fact number two: If this deal goes through, over $100 billion in American control will flow to Iran. Face number three: We know to an absolute certainty a substantial portion of that over $100 billion will be given to Hamas, to Hezbollah, to the Houthis, to radical Islamic terrorists. And as a result those billions of dollars now in American control will be used by jihadists to murder Americans, to murder Israelis, to murder Europeans. Those are the facts.
The unavoidable consequence of those facts is that if this deal goes through, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry will be the leading global financiers of radical Islamic terrorism on the face of the earth. Now, when Barack Obama attacked me in Africa for saying that, he didn’t point to any other entity that would be a larger financier of radical Islamic terrorism. When you send billions of dollars to jihadists trying to kill Americans, you bear responsibility for the murder that they carry out with the money you have given them. You know, one of the reasons Republicans keep getting clobbered is we have leaders like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush who are afraid to say that.
Cruz then went into a more specific response to Romney’s attack against him on Twitter on Thursday morning. “I am opposed to the Iran deal, but @SenTedCruz is way over the line on the Obama terrorism charge. Hurts the cause,” Romney Tweeted on Thursday morning.
“Now it’s not a question of rhetoric,” Cruz said.
Mitt Romney’s Tweet today said, well gosh this rhetoric is not helpful. John Adams famously said facts are stubborn things. Describing the actual facts is not using rhetoric—it is called speaking the truth. Part of the reason why Mitt Romney got clobbered by Barack Obama is because we all remember that third debate where Barack Obama turned to Mitt and said “I said the Benghazi attack was terrorism and no one is more upset about Benghazi than I am” and Mitt, I guess listening to his own advice, said, “gosh I don’t want to use any rhetoric so I guess I’ll just rearrange the pencil on the podium here.”
We need to stand up and speak the truth with a smile. But the truth has power and every time we have Republicans who shy away—who don’t want to engage, who don’t want to speak the truth—we lose. In 1979 and 1980 when Ronald Reagan said the Soviet Union is an evil empire and will end up on the ash heap of history, all of the voices—all of the moderate Republicans who were scared—they said “ooh, ooh, that rhetoric is not helpful.” Speaking the truth is the only way you actually prevail. As Margaret Thatcher said, “first you win the argument, then you win the vote.”
Cruz then defended former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for his comments about the effects the Iran deal could have on Israel—and called out Bush for attacking Huckabee.
“Likewise, I thought it was really unfortunate in the past couple of weeks to see Jeb Bush number one attacking Mike Huckabee for speaking out about the incredible threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel,” Cruz said.
In this, I agree with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and Mike Huckabee both. Prime Minister Netanyahu said a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to Israel and I’m sorry, Jeb Bush is wrong. We shouldn’t shy away from saying that. Likewise, I disagreed with Jeb Bush when he said well it’s not reasonable for the next president to say he will cancel this agreement when he enters office. It is absolutely reasonable for any serious commander in chief to say that he will abrogate any deal that undermines U.S. national security.
I recognize that the foreign policy establishment in Washington don’t want to see that happen—they’d rather a horrible deal that endangers national security than actually a commander in chief who defends this nation. But I’ll tell you this, Chad, I will never shy away from speaking the truth about the threats that face this country and about the steps we need to take to ensure that we keep every American safe and secure.