Texas Senator Ted Cruz is running for president as an anti-establishment freshman firebrand and his continued attacks on Republican leadership in Washington, D.C. haven't made him the most popular man on the Hill.
The Daily Caller reported that House Speaker John Boehner joked at a private fundraiser last week that he was relieved Cruz’s presidential campaign kept “that jackass” out of Washington and away from hounding him about his job performance. Boehner's office has yet to respond to the report.
But Cruz himself shrugged off what he called Boehner's “profanity-laden assault” during a recent interview on the conservative Hugh Hewitt radio show.
"The speaker is entitled to express whatever views he likes, but I’m not going to respond in kind," Cruz told Hewitt, rejecting an opportunity to attack the Speaker. Cruz infamously called Boehner's counterpart in the upper chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a liar in the well of the Senate earlier this summer.
"There is a difference between describing the facts and describing someone’s actions, and what occurred, and engaging in a personal attack. I gave, a couple of months ago, an unusual floor speech to be sure," Cruz explained. "But I stood up and I said: Here are the commitments that the majority leader gave to me, personally, to every Republican senator, and to the American people, and his conduct today is directly contrary to those commitments that he made. And that is quite different from engaging in the kind of personal attack and insults and profanity-laden assault that so many others engage in."
Asked wether he thought there was any "upside" to engaging in a fight with the Speaker while running for his party's nomination, Cruz dismissed the suggestion that another intra-party battle would bolster his anti-establishment credentials:
I think the American people are not remotely interested in a bunch of politicians in Washington bickering like schoolyard children. I think what they’re looking for is serious leaders who will address and provide real solutions to the very real problems we’re facing right now.
I think an awful lot of folks in politics, they get personal and they engage in insults and ad hominem attacks. And there’s far too much of that that goes on. And my approach consistently is that I don’t reciprocate.
But Boehner's attack on Cruz has engendered sympathy for the candidate from his fellow Republican rivals.
"I think it's just wrong," Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told Hewitt during an interview on his radio show last week. "Even though I don't know Sen. Cruz as well as I know some of the governors, I've grown to know him and like him and admire him quite a bit out on the campaign trail.
Listen to Cruz's response to Boehner, via The Hugh Hewitt Show: