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The Texas senator has engaged in a virtual war of words with Mark Cuban, Seth Rogen and others

By Virginia Chamlee
February 25, 2021 05:14 PM
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Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz
| Credit: Jonathan Newton-Pool/Getty

Billionaires, celebrities, even other lawmakers: Ted Cruz is ready and willing, it seems, to spar with anyone about anything.

Since being elected to the Senate in 2013, the former Texas attorney general — a past and possibly future presidential contender — has stressed his unceasing adherence to his conservative principles and his appetite for argument, especially on social media and even about everyday issues.

The former debate hall of famer sees himself as a savvy orator.

Others, however, call him inflexible and intolerable.

That includes Republicans: former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley "burst into laughter" after a meeting with him in 2016 where she found him "awkward" and "insincere." And former Speaker of the House John Boehner once called him "Lucifer in the flesh" and a "miserable son of a bitch."

The Princeton- and Harvard-educated Cruz's argumentative style hasn't always paid off online: He will tweet something at someone, only to have their reply go even more viral.

Cruz has made light of his reputation before, joking during a campaign stop in 2015 that he "sometimes wondered if [he] needs a food taster" when dining at the Senate.

A controversial trip to Cancún, Mexico, while his home state was in the middle of deadly winter weather last week again put Cruz on the defensive. And his Twitter spats aren't the only time he has raised eyebrows.

Below, a look at some of the most noteworthy moments.

Twitter

On Feb. 11, Cruz criticized Disney for its firing of Mandalorian actress (and fellow Texan) Gina Carano, who was dropped from the show following a slew of controversial social media posts.

"Texan Gina Carano broke barriers in the Star Wars universe: not a princess, not a victim, not some emotionally tortured Jedi," Cruz wrote on Twitter. "She played a woman who kicked ass & who girls looked up to. She was instrumental in making Star Wars fun again. Of course Disney canceled her."

Actress Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey in the sci-fi franchise and who seemed to be Cruz's target as the "emotionally tortured Jedi," fired back at Cruz weeks later in an interview with Yahoo, referencing the senator's much maligned trip to Cancún.

"I am very happy to be an emotionally tortured Jedi who doesn't leave their state when it's having a terrible time," Ridley said after noting that she hadn't seen Cruz's tweet in the first place.

Cruz said his beach trip (which lasted less than 24 hours; he came back once photos of him at the airport began circulating) was a "mistake" and said "in hindsight" he wouldn't have done it.

He reiterated his commitment to his state and maintained that he would have been working remotely.

Cruz has also born the brunt of criticism from some of his congressional colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

In January, after he attempted to endorse one of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's tweets, the New York lawmaker shot back that he should "sit this one out" due to his role in spreading baseless election fraud fears before the U.S. Capitol was attacked by Donald Trump's supporters.

"I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there's common ground, but you almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out," she said on Twitter. 

"Happy to work w/ almost any other GOP that aren't trying to get me killed," she added. "In the meantime if you want to help, you can resign."

Continuing a feud that began last year, The Princess Bride's Cary Elwes and Cruz also squared off recently, with Elwes asking Cruz: "How does it feel to know that not only the entire cast and crew of your favorite movie The Princess Bride, but almost the whole entertainment industry, have nothing but rabid contempt for you? #inconceivable?"

Elwes, who starred in the 1987 film, also called Cruz a "miserable ROUS," a reference to one of the monsters in the Oscar-nominated movie: rodents of unusual size.

In 2020, Cruz traded barbs with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, whom he accused of turning every game into a "left-wing political lecture."

Cuban responded by retweeting Cruz and writing: "You are so full of s---. You haven't watched a game of the finals, how would you know what is being said or done? Since when is a desire to end racism an insult to anyone or political?"

Two days later, Cruz mocked Cuban as "a sensitive guy" who "gets very upset when anyone points out that the NBA is deliberately destroying their business by insulting & driving away their own fans." In the tweet, he again accused Cuban of adding "Lefty lectures" to sports.

Cuban shot back, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said the NBA had done a better job of managing than the Trump White House.

"Teddy, in the spirit of détente, I'll get the @NBA to show the White House how to protect all your friends so they don't get sick any more. We have gone months with no cases," Cuban wrote. "Then possibly they can learn what it takes to keep people safe and open up the economy. Deal?"

But it was actor Seth Rogen's days-long back-and-forth with Cruz that perhaps drew the most attention.

The dispute was spurred in January when the 38-year-old actor called Cruz a "fascist" after the Texas senator tweeted about President Joe Biden's decision to rejoin the Paris climate accord.

After Cruz tweeted that the president was "more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh," Rogen replied with "F--- off you fascist," referring to Cruz's support of the effort to stop Biden from becoming president.

In his response back to Rogen, Cruz sarcastically called the actor's tweet a "charming, civil, educated response," writing, "If you're a rich, angry Hollywood celebrity, today's Dems are the party for you. If you're blue-collar, if you're a union member, if you work in energy or manufacturing...not so much."

In an interview with The Washington Post, Rogen said that his feelings about Cruz amounted to more than just a "Twitter spat."

"It's a terrible state of affairs, and the fact that it's viewed as a 'Twitter spat' is honestly the most annoying thing to me," Rogen told the Post. "This man is a fascist. This man is trying to overthrow the United States government. This isn't, like, 'Comedian and politician get into a war on Twitter.' "

My Little Pony

It was a moment that could — should — have been endearing:

"What's your favorite My Little Pony?" Cruz reportedly asked a young girl during a 2016 campaign stop, talking about the popular horse-based franchise. After she responded that "Twilight" was her favorite character, Cruz noted that his own favorite was Applejack but "I have two daughters, and they love Twilight."

"I just think she's funny," he said of Applejack.

Once the remarks made their way to the internet, so do did the jokes: Critics called Cruz a "Brony," a slang term used to describe an adult male fan of My Little Pony.

Back-and-Forth with Trump

Friends? Frenemies? Compatriots of convenience? Cruz's relationship with former President Trump has taken many forms.

For a time they were rivals, challenging each other in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. That meant Trump didn't spare Cruz from his highly personal and false attacks.

At one point Trump alleged in a Fox News interview that Cruz's father had associated with Lee Harvey Oswald not long before Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

The animosity spilled onto Twitter after a political group not even tied to Cruz published an ad using a suggestive photo of Melania Trump. In response, Trump laid the blame on Cruz, tweeting that he was gong to "spill the beans" on the Texas senator's wife.

"Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad," Trump tweeted, alongside a poorly-edited photo comparing Melania to Cruz's wife, Heidi. "Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!"

Trump also retweeted side-by-side photos of Heidi and his own wife in a way that suggested Heidi was less attractive.

Cruz pushed back on Trump for attacking his wife, tweeting that the future first lady was "lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life."

Cruz eventually grew more defensive, pointing at cameras for added emphasis as he answered questions from reporters while on the campaign trail.

"Donald, you're a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone," he told reporters at the time.

While he declined to say then whether or not he would endorse Trump if he became the eventual nominee, Cruz theorized that he would "beat Donald for the nomination."

After Trump went on the win the nomination and the presidency — though Cruz notably declined to endorse him at that year's Republican National Convention, where he was booed — Cruz became one of Trump's most loyal allies, eventually leading the charge in the Senate against certifying now-President Biden's electoral win.