Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Wednesday invited President Obama to come back from overseas and insult him to his face, and challenged Mr. Obama to a debate over the White House’s Syrian refugee policy.
“Mr. President, if you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey — you can do it in foreign countries. But I would encourage you, Mr. President: Come back and insult me to my face,” Mr. Cruz said, in video captured by NBC News. “Let’s have a debate on Syrian refugees right now. We can do it anywhere you want. I’d prefer it in the United States and not overseas where you’re making the insults.”
“It’s easy to toss a cheap insult when no one can respond, but let’s have a debate,” Mr. Cruz said.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, Mr. Obama has criticized Republicans who are advocating that the U.S. turn away Muslim refugees from Syria.
“When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful,” Mr. Obama said at a press conference in Turkey this week. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
Mr. Cruz, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, has said that Christians fleeing the region should be allowed to come into the United States, but not Muslims. Mr. Cruz’s father fled Cuba and eventually ended up in the United States after living in Canada.
“I will say it’s fairly remarkable that President Obama has now chosen two days in a row to attack me directly,” Mr. Cruz said. “He just called me offensive; the day before he called me un-American.”
“You know, I think that’s really quite rich that he chose to make both of those insults on foreign soil while he was abroad attacking me, and attacking everyone else in this country who believes we should not be bringing in tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees that the Obama administration cannot vet to determine whether or not they are ISIS terrorists,” Mr. Cruz said.
“I gotta tell you — it is utterly unbefitting of the president to be engaging in those kind of personal insults and attacks,” he said.