Politics & Policy

Cruz to Obama: ‘Come Back and Insult Me to My Face’

(Getty Images)

Ted Cruz on Wednesday lashed out at President Barack Obama for accusing GOP presidential hopefuls of posturing for political gain on the issue of Syrian refugees.

“It is utterly unbefitting of a president to be engaging in those kinds of personal insults and attacks, and you know he also, he talked about how he was belittling the Republican field as scared. Well let me suggest something, 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,” Cruz told a scrum of reporters and television cameras outside the Capitol Hill Club this morning.

Obama, at a press conference Tuesday, said it was “offensive and contrary to American values” for Republicans such as Cruz to suggest that only Christian refugees should be allowed into the country. He also jabbed at the Republican field’s toughness. “First they were worried the press was too tough on them in the debates, now they’re worried about three year old orphans,” he said. “That doesn’t sound very tough to me.”

Cruz, responding to those remarks, went one step further, challenging the president to a debate.

“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. We’ll do it on any station, I’m sure any one of the TV stations would be glad to host it, and lets have a debate on your refugee policy. And if you are so certain that allowing tens of thousands of refugees — including potentially ISIS terrorists — is a good idea, if you’re so certain the American people are with you, then I would encourage you to come [debate me],” Cruz said. “If I am such an un-American and offensive person in President Obama’s view, then he should do quite well in the debate. So let’s have the debate any time or place and if he actually wants to defend his policy instead of tossing cheap insults, I think that would actually be beneficial for this country,” he added.

The Syrian refugee crisis has taken center stage in the aftermath of the terrorists attacks on Paris last week. Earlier this week in South Carolina, Cruz said he plans to introduce a bill to bar Syrian Muslim refugees from entering the United States. He has said the Syrian Christians should be provided safe haven.

— Alexis Levinson is the senior political reporter for National Review.

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