Of the many Republican candidates to speak out against allowing Syrian refugees into the country, it appears that none have faced as much criticism for their remarks as Ted Cruz. The Texas senator was called out by President Obama over remarks made regarding "religion tests" for refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Cruz had previously stated that he is only interested in providing aid to Christians rather than Muslims, a discriminatory stance that has earned him ire from voters as well as fellow politicians. Now, the GOP presidential hopeful is responding to the president. Ted Cruz is immaturely calling out Obama, and his comments are frankly embarrassing.
Rather than acknowledge Obama's criticism for what it is — an understandable difference of opinion — Cruz rather emotionally went on the offensive. He had this to say to reporters outside the Capitol Hill Club:
I want to encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face. Let's have a debate on Syrian refugees right now. We can do it anywhere you want. I prefer it in the United States and not overseas where you're making insults. It's easy to toss a cheap insult when no one can respond, but let's have a debate. ... It is utterly unbefitting of the president to be engaging in those kind of personal insults and attacks.
Cruz's initial statements about Syrian refugees were their own critique of Obama allowing refugees to come to the United States, a stance that he called "nothing less than lunacy." He then added that it was up to the country to protect Christian refugees from persecution, however. Though the president didn't explicitly name Cruz, Obama blasted the proposed "religion test" in a speech delivered at the G20 summit in Turkey:
When I hear folks say that well maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who is fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted ... that's shameful. That's not American. That's not who we are.
According to recent polls, Cruz appears to be gaining on his fellow candidates and is currently in fourth place with 11 percent — but only slightly behind Marco Rubio's 12 percent. Having a productive, mature debate about the Syrian refugee crisis and the United States' role in providing aid could surely boost his numbers even further. Instead, Cruz chooses to resort to almost schoolyard-esque tactics when calling out Obama, coming off as rather reactionary. It's unclear whether the president will even respond to the candidate, though the discussion of how best to handle a potential influx of refugees is certainly far from over.