"Way over the line": Mitt Romney slams Ted Cruz for unhinged "terrorism" charge against Obama

After Mitt Romney rips Ted Cruz on Twitter, the Tea Partyer goes for a full-throated attack

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published July 30, 2015 5:17PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Jim Bourg)
(Reuters/Jim Bourg)

“If this deal is consummated, it will make the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said this week of the multinational nuclear agreement with Iran.

“Billions of dollars under control of this administration will flow into the hands of jihadists who will use that money to murder Americans, to murder Israelis, to murder Europeans,” Cruz explained to a group of supporters.

Cruz, apparently competing for the title of Republican presidential candidate who has said the most outrageously offensive thing of the week, faced some stiff competition from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who compared the deal to President Obama "marching the Israelis to the oven doors." Nevertheless, Cruz's accusation that the Iranian nuclear deal would make President Obama a sponsor of terrorism was explosive (pardon the pun) enough to garner a rebuke from the President.

“We’ve had a sitting senator, who also happens to be running for president, suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism,” Obama said during a press conference from Ethiopia earlier this week. “Maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now,” he insisted.

Well this morning, President Obama got some back-up against Cruz from an unlikely source. 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tweeted his disapproval of Cruz's remarks, calling out Cruz for going "over the line" and claiming the Tea Party senator had "hurt the cause":

[embedtweet id=626719073691410432]

Cruz, who a week ago attacked Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor as a "liar," was quick to fire back at Romney. Business Insider notes that Cruz appeared on a Texas radio program today, where he dismissed Romney's criticism and defended his charge against the White House as "speaking truth to power."

"So Mitt Romney's tweet today said, 'Gosh, this rhetoric is not helpful ... John Adams famously said, 'Facts are stubborn things.' Describing the actual facts is not using rhetoric; it is called speaking the truth," Cruz said.

Cruz then went for the jugular, citing Romney's infamous quarrel with Obama during one of the general election debates over the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, as the reason why Romney "got clobbered" in the 2012 election:

Part of the reason that Mitt Romney got clobbered by Barack Obama is because we all remember that third debate where Barack Obama turned to Mitt and said, 'I said the Benghazi attack was terrorism and no one is more upset by Benghazi than I am.' And Mitt, I guess listening to his own advice, said, 'Well gosh, I don't want to use any rhetoric. So OK, never mind. I'll just kind of rearrange the pencil on the podium here

Cruz argued that his take no prisoners, anti-establishment approach was the only way a conservative could take the White House in 2016:

We need to stand up and speak the truth with a smile ... The truth has power and every time we have Republicans who shy away — who don't want to engage, who don't want to speak the truth — we lose.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

MORE FROM Sophia Tesfaye

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2016 Elections Gop Gop Civil War Iran Nuclear Deal President Obama Ted Cruz