Being a publicly elected official has plenty of upsides, but it's not without its pitfalls. One of the job's tougher requirements is facing angry and unhappy constituents, which is where Sen. Ted Cruz found himself on Tuesday night. Reading from prepared notes, a woman asked Cruz if he'd take a DNA test to prove he is human, after she said his support of high-risk insurance pools would either bankrupt or kill her.
The video originally appeared on the YouTube page of Tammy Talpas, though it's unclear if she's the same woman featured in the video. Addressing Cruz, the woman states she has seven "pre-existing conditions" which don't include "being female, and a survivor of abuse." She goes on to say that forcing her into a high-risk insurance pool — where pricier plans are offered only to patients with similarly expensive health costs — would cost her everything, perhaps even her life. She also says Cruz's "threats of medical aggression" are personal to her.
The woman ends by asking Cruz, in what seems to be complete seriousness, "Will you pledge to submit to a DNA test, to prove that you’re human?"
Patrick Svitek, a reporter at The Texas Tribune, appears to be the first person to have taken note of the video, posting it on Twitter.
Cruz responds immediately with, "Well, ma'am, thank you for that." It doesn't strike one as the sort of question for which a person would experience gratitude, but Cruz does follow up with, "One of the great things about our Democratic system is we can treat each other with respect and civility." She pushes Cruz for a yes or no answer to the DNA test, at which point he betrays a bit of frustration. "Ma'am, if you want to engage in insults, that's your prerogative," Cruz says, thanking her for being present, and then walking away.
The type of high-risk insurance pools Cruz has floated in the past are usually unpopular, due to evidence they inevitably make health care very expensive for people with illnesses and preexisting conditions. Margot Sanger-Katz writes for The New York Times that segmenting the market the way Cruz suggested — into a set of plans adhering to all Obamacare standards and skimpier, cheaper plans that would not — would essentially create two separate insurance pools. "And the prices could get extremely high" for those forced to purchase Obamacare-compliant plans, Sanger-Katz writes.
Cruz has had awkward run-ins with people of the general citizenry before. During the Republican primary, Cruz approached a group of Donald Trump supporters and tried to engage them in discussion. It did not go well. As Matt Flaggenheimer outlines for The New York Times, Cruz's attempts to argue rationally were repeatedly shot down, with shouts of "Lyin' Ted" disrupting the senator's point-making process. At one point, the man Cruz initially addressed asked him where his "Goldman Sachs jacket" was, presumably in reference to work Cruz's wife, Heidi, had done for the investment firm.
And after Cruz announced that if he won the Republican nomination, he'd choose Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate, their epically awkward handshake made the internet rounds.
Then there was the letter sent out by Cruz's campaign, fundraising off the idea that Cruz had made lots of "sacrifices" for his supporters in running for the presidency. That move earned him few accolades, and invited the scathing critique of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She took to Twitter and told Cruz if he thought a presidential campaign was hard, then "boo hoo."
It's difficult to say if any of them really compare to being asked to take a DNA test for proof of humanity. In fairness, give Cruz some credit for staying pretty cool throughout the exchange.