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At CPAC, Ted Cruz says China shooting down Pelosi’s plane would be ‘an act of war’

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 8/6/2022 Michael Williams, The Dallas Morning News
Ted Cruz, R- Texas, speaks during the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. © Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News/TNS Ted Cruz, R- Texas, speaks during the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

DALLAS — Sen. Ted Cruz told a conservative gathering in Dallas on Friday that President Joe Biden should have reacted more forcefully to China’s threats to shoot down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane during her trip to Taiwan — saying it would be an “act of war” if the threats were followed through.

“The only answer to an enemy of America threatening to murder the speaker of the House of the United States is that would be an act of war, and the result would be devastating,” he said Friday, the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Saturday is the biggest day for this week’s CPAC gathering, with headliner Donald Trump scheduled to speak in the evening.

Cruz helped get conservatives revved up for the main attraction with this barb using an insult that is typically reserved for the French: “Weakness and appeasement that comes from the cheese-eating surrender monkeys is making America and the entire world far less safe.”

Cruz was referencing posts that went viral claiming a representative of the Chinese government threatened to kill the speaker over her visit to Taiwan, which China insists is its territory. But the threats didn’t originate from the Chinese government — they were instead made by a commentator of a state-owned newspaper.

Cruz’s defense of Pelosi ended there. He frequently attacked the speaker during his 15-minute speech Friday, vowing to send her packing after the next election.

“Nancy’s going to get on her broom,” Cruz said before pausing. “No, that’s not right, that’s not right. Nancy’s going to get on her private jet — the USS Broom — and she’s going to fly back to San Francisco. And actually, for her sake, I really hope her husband doesn’t pick her up at the airport.”

Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was arrested near the couple’s Napa vineyard in May on a DUI charge. He’s pleaded not guilty.

“As I look around this room of patriots, I see America’s flag and I see Gadsden flag, and I see the Gonzales battle flag,” Cruz said, “it occurs to me that the Biden FBI believes this is a room of dangerous rebels.”

Cruz was referencing his heated confrontation with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday, after the FBI labeled the Gonzales flag — a black and white banner flown during an 1835 battle in Texas that features a cannon and the words “Come and Take It” — as an extremist symbol.

During a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cruz took off one of his boots and slammed it on his desk. “I will self-report right now that every day in the Senate, I wear my boots that have the Gonzales battle flag on the back of them,” Cruz told Wray.

The senator was not wearing boots during his speech Friday.

Cruz, who had spent much of the morning signing books and taking pictures with supporters along with his father, Rafael, also tried his hand at stand-up comedy while talking about inflation and high prices.

“It’s so bad, antifa can’t afford bricks. It is so bad, Eric Swalwell can’t afford Chinese dinners. It is so bad (”How bad is it?” some in the crowd responded) that AOC can’t afford fake handcuffs.”

Cruz also ridiculed mask mandates, pronouns and Anthony Fauci’s height before plugging his own podcast.

On another issue, Cruz said Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence in a Russian prison is an “abuse of power,” but he declined to say whether a prisoner swap is the best way to bring the WNBA player and native Texan home.

“It is wrong,” Cruz told The Dallas Morning News in a brief interview at CPAC. “... It is Vladimir Putin targeting an American. It is an unjust detention, and Brittney Griner should be free.”

Cruz, who along with Sen. John Cornyn supported a Senate resolution that described Griner as wrongfully detained, called on Biden’s administration “to use the leverage they have to free her from this abusive prosecution by the Russian government.”

The statements were the first public comments Cruz has made about Griner since she was convicted and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on drug charges. Biden denounced the verdict and sentence as “unacceptable” and called on Russia to immediately free Griner, who was born and raised in Houston and played for Baylor University, leading the team to a 40-0 season and the 2012 NCAA title.

The conviction also sets up the potential for high-stakes negotiations between the Russian and American governments. Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that the United States has proposed a trade involving Griner and Paul Whelan, another American held by Russia, in exchange for Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout.

Cruz declined to comment on the proposed deal Friday, citing the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The Russian government has warned that any negotiations should be discussed privately.

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©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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