Ted Cruz Clarifies; Apologizes To Columnists Who Criticized Middle East Christian Speech [UPDATED]

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

(Ted Cruz has responded below.)

My latest piece for The Week argues that Ted Cruz’s foreign policy is Reaganesque. But while I have praised his moral clarity on foreign policy, I was among those who criticized his comments at a Middle East Christian conference. Apparently, this makes me (and my colleagues) anti-Semitic. At least, that seems to be what Cruz implied in a recent interview with World Magazine

Here’s an excerpt:

“A number of the critics, a number of the folks in the media have suggested, for example, that my saying what I did distracted from the plight of persecuted Christians. What I find interesting is almost to a person, the people writing those columns have never or virtually never spoken of persecuted Christians in any other context. I have spoken literally hundreds of times all over the country. This is a passion. I’ve been on the Senate floor, and I intend to keep highlighting this persecution. I will say it does seem interesting that the only time at least some of these writers seem to care about persecuted Christians is when it furthers an anti-Israel narrative for them. That starts to suggest that maybe their motivation is not exactly what they’re saying.” (Emphasis mine.)

… I’ll anxiously await responses from Ross Douthat and Mollie Hemingway — and the many conservative columnists who wrote critically about Cruz’s comments.

UPDATE: Ted Cruz responds:

It was a mistake to suggest that critics of my remarks at IDC had not spoken out previously concerning the persecution of Christians; many of them have done so, often quite eloquently.  It was not my intent to impugn anyone’s integrity, and I apologize to any columnists who took offense.  The systematic murder of Christians in the Middle East is a horrible atrocity, and all of us should be united against it.  Likewise we should speak with one voice against the persecution of Jews, usually being carried out by the very same jihadist radicals.

Some will react with glee, but give Cruz credit for walking this back before it got out of hand. That shows, I think, political sagacity, as well as a level of humbleness. Gaffes will inevitably happen on a presidential campaign, and the question is: “How will you handle them?” I think this response bodes well for him.

Read the whole interview here — and listen below:

Note: Matt Lewis’ wife formerly worked as a consultant for Ted Cruz.

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