Election

'Violent Terrorists' or 'Peaceful Protesters': Ted Cruz Can't Make Up His Mind on U.S. Capitol Rioters

Sen. Ted Cruz has had conflicting opinions about the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Sen. Ted Cruz has had conflicting opinions about the Jan. 6 insurrection. Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Politicians aren’t always known for their consistency, but U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is taking the term “flip-flop” to new heights. And some suspect the Texas Republican’s apparent amnesia could be fueled by presidential ambitions.

Last week, Cruz appeared on FOX News to condemn the "woke little left-wing twit" responsible for leaking the Supreme Court's abortion draft decision. (The leaker has not been identified.) Speaking with host Brian Kilmeade, he also ranted about President Joe Biden and the supposed unfair treatment of Capitol rioters.

"This is the same president, this is the same Department of Justice that is keeping peaceful protesters from Jan. 6 in prison, is refusing to answer questions about solitary confinement, is devoting their resources not to actually going after bad guys, but to trying to target and punish their political opponents," Cruz said. "And it is wrong and it's profoundly dangerous."

Calling insurrectionists “peaceful protesters” is, well, the exact opposite of what Cruz had said the day after the Jan. 6 insurrection, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump interrupted the electoral vote certification, threatened to hang the vice president, forced lawmakers into hiding, defecated in the halls and assaulted police officers.
On Jan. 7, 2021, Cruz slammed the rioters’ actions as a “despicable act of terrorism.” But it wouldn’t be the only time that he’d use the “T”-word to describe that day’s events.

Cruz echoed that language as recently as this past January, when he again dubbed the Capitol riot a “violent terrorist attack.”

It was a sin for which he'd later repent during a televised verbal flogging by FOX host Tucker Carlson. During that segment, Texas' junior senator insisted that he’d only been referring to “the limited number of people who engaged in violent attacks against police officers.” Sure, buddy.

Critics were quick to attack Cruz over last week's FOX appearance.

In a news release, liberal political action committee American Bridge 21st Century blasted Cruz for spearheading the effort to challenge the 2020 presidential election. Even though the senator had initially denounced the day’s events, he's “since walked back his statement in a sloppy attempt to appease the right-wing extremists within his party,” the group wrote.

“Ted Cruz truly has no shame in his sad effort to secure the 2024 Republican presidential nomination,” American Bridge's statement continued.

Cruz previously ran for president in 2016. Even though several years have passed since then, his chances might not be much better today.

Last month, 43% of Texas voters approved of the job that Cruz is doing and another 43% disapproved, according to the Texas Politics Project. The numbers aren’t much better on a broader scale.

Back in February, 59% of Conservative Political Action Conference attendees said they’d back Trump in the 2024 Republican primary, while only 1% claimed they'd opt for Cruz. But who knows? Maybe a few “peaceful protesters” will wind up taking pity on him at the ballot box.
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter