Cruz later told Fox News that he thought that "by design," Biden's speech was "calm and dulcet"

By Sean Neumann
April 29, 2021 11:43 AM
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It looks like Sen. Ted Cruz needed a cat nap.

Many viewers of President Joe Biden's joint address to Congress on Wednesday night spotted what seemed like Cruz, 50, having trouble keeping his eyes open during the televised speech.

Biden, 78, began speaking at 9:07 p.m. local time and finished his address to Congress about an hour later, at 10:11 p.m.

Cameras routinely cut to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers throughout Biden's address, showing their reactions.

Minutes before Biden wrapped up his speech, cameras showed Cruz, whose eyelids flapped slowly and his eyes appeared to roll back into his head as he seemingly nodded off, however briefly.

The moment came just as Biden was encouraging both Democrats and Republicans to listen and debate with each other over issues like immigration — a key issue in the state of Texas, where Cruz is a senator.

"Look, immigrants have done so much for America during this pandemic and throughout our history," Biden told lawmakers, moments after Cruz closed his eyes. "The country supports immigration reform. We should act. Let's argue over it. Let's debate over it. But let's act."

A spokesperson for Cruz did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. He tweeted that Biden's speech was the problem.

BIDEN SPEECH
President Joe Biden (front) gives his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday with (back, from left) Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
| Credit: DOUG MILLS/Getty Images

Cruz — who had applauded along with other lawmakers earlier in the speech, when Biden encouraged vaccinations, and who gave a lively interview on Fox News after the address ended — has not clarified whether the moment was an intentional reaction to signal his feelings about Biden's remarks, or if he actually could not stay awake.

"Biden's speech was boring but radical," he said afterwards, accusing the president of intentionally speaking in a monotone voice throughout the night.

Cruz told Fox News that he thought that "by design," Biden's speech was "calm and dulcet."

"I challenge you to remember a single line from the speech," Cruz said.

Social media critics were quick to pounce on his apparent nap.

Referencing how Cruz controversially left Texas during deadly winter storms there this year, The Daily Show tweeted: "Looks like Ted's eyes are hooked up to his state's power grid."

Others used the hashtag "#TedSnooze."

Members of Congress have strategically used news camera's live reaction shots during presidential speeches to make political points in the past: After President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address in 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood up behind him and ripped his remarks in half.

Ted Cruz during President Joe Biden’s First Address to Congress
Sen. Ted Cruz watches President Joe Biden's joint address to Congress on Wednesday.
| Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty

More Notable Non-Speech Moments

Cruz wasn't the only congressperson to make headlines Wednesday night.

Cameras also captured Rep. Liz Cheney, who has been embroiled in an inter-party standoff with Republican colleagues over her criticisms of Trump, fist-bumping Biden before he spoke.

Meanwhile, Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris shared their own elbow bump as they stood on the dais — the first two women to ever be seated behind a president for his address.

During the speech, cameras caught Sen. Joe Manchin apparently taking detailed notes.

And, of course, there was a bit of politician-on-politician sniping: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks won a mask that read "6," referring to the historically slim margin of votes she won her recent election by over Democrat Rita Hart.