The attempted slight against the Massachusetts senator was met with laughter by the crowd of attendees at the seventh annual Basque Fry in Nevada on Saturday but was quickly condemned online as being a veiled transphobic jest after video footage of the speech was shared on Twitter.
“We need courage responding to crazy town,” the TexasRepublican told a crowd of GOP supporters at the annual cookout just outside Gardnerville, located 50 miles south of Reno. “Elizabeth Warren told reporters that a guy came up to her and said, ‘I would have voted for you if only you had a penis’” he continued, alleging that he believed that story to be made up.
“In today’s Democrat Party, how do we know she doesn’t?” he said, a line that was received warmly at the Saturday rally held to support Republican Adam Laxalt’s challenge against Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto for the Senate in Nevada.
“How could you possibly know? ‘My name is Elizabeth. Call me Bob,’” the Texas lawmaker continued in what proved to be a veiled screed against trans people.
— David Edwards (@DavidEdwards) August 14, 2022
In a blunter attack, Mr Cruz took on Lia Thomas, who became the first openly trans athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship in any sport back in March, and slurred her name by falsely claiming she is a “dude”.
“He looks like Michael Phelps,” the senator added during his address.
Though during the rally Mr Cruz’s remarks seemed to be overwhelmingly welcomed with laughter, the reception online was much pricklier with many pointing out how the senator’s attempt at humour was more of an attack against trans people.
“When we think they can’t go any lower, they show us how wrong we were,” wrote on Twitter user, while another user asked in a tweet resharing the viral clip how this kind of remark was considered “ok” in the GOP.
When we think they can’t go any lower, they show us how wrong we were. https://t.co/rabal56lu6
— Renee (@rstockda) August 15, 2022
“How in the heck is this ok? @LeaderMcConnell , this is ok?” tweeted Twitter user @DodgerGirl61.
— Blue Sea🇺🇲 (@DodgerGirl61) August 15, 2022
“If Ted Cruz were trying to make himself loathsome, he could not do a better job,” tweeted Mitchell Epner, while the USA Singers of America – a group who describes themselves as resistance music makers who are opposed to the GOP – kept their response to the senator’s crass joke succinct: “Elizabeth Warren has a bigger penis than Ted Cruz.”
Not enough bad things can happen to Ted Cruz. This is a truth that was revealed to me (and my HLS classmates) in Fall 1992. Everyday, he does he best to spread the gospel.
If Ted Cruz were trying to make himself loathsome, he could not do a better job. https://t.co/WrhCtnoQ5P
— Mitchell Epner (@MitchellEpner) August 14, 2022
Elizabeth Warren has a bigger penis than Ted Cruz.
— The USA Singers (@TheUSASingers) August 14, 2022
The past weekend’s screed against transgender people is hardly the first time the Texas Republican has waded into the culture wars.
In 2016, while Mr Cruz was running a campaign in the presidential election in the hopes of securing the GOP ticket, he came out in support of a bill in North Carolina that made it illegal for transgender people to use bathrooms of their natural gender.
“As the father of daughters, I’m not terribly excited about men being able to go along into a bathroom with my daughters,” Mr Cruz said at the time.
And what if she was? You still have a bum electric grid, low test scores, and insane gun violence in your state. She and her dick would be an improvement. https://t.co/tgy2xWOzt1
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) August 14, 2022
The party of hate. How about instead of trying to do stand-up, you actually just tell us what your plan is to make America better for EVERYONE? Oh, you can't. You only care about staying up Trump rump and making the rich richer. #VoteThemAllOut2022 #FUCruz https://t.co/9iTQUBYh3R
— Jennifer Allen (@tiredoftheBSJen) August 15, 2022
More recently, the controversy-stirring politician told a group of students at Turning Point USA’s annual summit in Florida this past July that his preferred pronouns were “kiss my a**”.
The Texas lawmaker also took to the podium on Saturday alongside fellow Republicans to condemn the raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, with Mr Laxalt at one point calling it a shining example of “weaponizing the FBI” — a narrative that has been picked up widely by right-wing media in the fallout of the search of the Florida resort.