The GOP might be largely united in its hostility towards President Obama, but tension within the party is occasionally palpable to the public. The disdain between some of the most prominent Republican lawmakers was made public on Monday, when John McCain ridiculed Ted Cruz over the gun discussion that the latter claimed they had.
McCain relentlessly ridiculed the presidential hopeful over his pronouncement that he was "pressing" McCain to call for hearings on whether soldiers should be allowed to carry their own concealed weapons onto military bases, because as far as McCain knew, he said, that exchange never happened. The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, expressed bemusement at Cruz's gaffe:
You know, I was fascinated to hear that because I haven’t heard a thing about it from him. Nor has my staff heard from his staff. Where did that come from? I have not a clue. I’d be glad to discuss the issue and see if we need a hearing, but it came as a complete surprise to me that he had been pressing me.
McCain went on teasing the right-wing presidential contender:
Maybe it was through some medium that I’m not familiar with. Maybe bouncing it off the ozone layer, for all I know. There’s a lot of holes in the ozone layer, so maybe it wasn’t the ozone layer that he bounced it off of. Maybe it was through hand telegraph, maybe sign language. Ask him how he communicated with me because I’d be very interested. Because who knows what I’m missing.
While campaigning for president in New Hampshire on Monday, Cruz had told gun owners that he was pushing McCain to have a "public discussion about why we’re denying our soldiers the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights," Politico reported.
Following McCain's response, Cruz backtracked on Monday, saying that he had "misspoken." In an interview on Fox News, Cruz said:
I will acknowledge, I may have misspoken in New Hampshire when I said that I had been pressing John McCain, and what I had been pressing is the Armed Services Committee. And John McCain is the new chairman of it.
His office also issued a defense, saying that Cruz had raised the issue last year at a hearing and sent a letter to the former Senate Armed Services Chairman, Democrat Carl Levin, to request that the Defense Department and outside authorities address the committee on allowing soldiers to be armed on military bases. Cruz's office also told Politico that he is working on a similar letter to McCain, who succeeded Levin as chairman early this year when the Republicans took over the Senate.
The move proved to be a slight embarrassment for Cruz, whose presidential campaign aims at winning the ultra-conservative vote. The disdain between McCain and Cruz has been made public before: McCain called Cruz — and the other GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul — among some of the Senate's "wacko birds" on the right, though he later apologized.
Both are at loggerheads on the gun debate, as well. McCain was one of the four Senate Republicans who voted for the gun regulation bill in 2013, whose defeat, according to Politico, was led by Cruz.
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