- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2016

In response to recent unrest at GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s events, Sen. Ted Cruz said Monday that protesters have no right to threaten or engage in violence, but that responsibility does start at the top in every campaign.

“I will say this: Protesters have no right to engage in violence,” Mr. Cruz told reporters in Illinois, also saying the protesters have no right to threaten violence or shout down other speakers.

“The First Amendment gives every one of us a right to speak, but we don’t have a right to silence others,” he said. “And to the extent these protesters are organized leftist groups, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or Bernie Sanders or George Soros, or some other moveon.org leftist group, they’re simply trying to terrorize political speech.”

“That is not their right. It is wrong, and we need to stand against it,” Mr. Cruz said.

“Now at the same time, it is true that [in] every campaign, responsibility starts at the top,” he said, going on to describe how he’s troubled by Mr. Trump’s demanding supporters pledge loyalty to him at recent events.

Earlier Monday, Mr. Cruz said such a sentiment was also evident in Mr. Trump’s treatment of protesters, where anyone who’s a protester is seen as disloyal.

Mr. Trump has defended the pledge as happening all in good fun, and has blamed supporters of Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont for the recent protests at his events.

Mr. Sanders said at a CNN town hall Sunday his campaign has never encouraged anyone to disrupt anything and that Mr. Trump is the one inciting violence.

Also earlier on Monday, Mr. Cruz had told reporters the best response to Mr. Trump is to beat him at the ballot box and that Mr. Cruz is the candidate to do it.

“That is a question the voters are asking: At what point do we say ‘enough is enough?’ ” Mr. Cruz said. “If Donald Trump is the nominee, he is a disaster, and the answer is to beat him.”

“I know it is a shocking concept to members of the media — a shocking concept that an elected official actually does what he said,” Mr. Cruz said. “At the outset of this campaign, I committed I will support the Republican nominee, and I honor my word. And honoring your word means you actually honor your word — you do what you said you would do.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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