Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reached back into conservative history during a speech on Wednesday, lauding late Republican icon Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) as an example for his present-day colleagues, Mediaite reported.
“The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic,” Cruz told the audience at a gathering held by the conservative Heritage Foundation. “And you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then. We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”
Cruz said during his speech that Helms’ propensity for saying “crazy things” was the reason actor John Wayne reportedly donated $5,000 to Helms’ first campaign for Senate. Cruz also said someone like Helms was needed in this day and age, when pressure cookers can be turned into explosives.
“I know if Jesse Helms were still with us, he would not shy away from this stuff,” Cruz said at an event with the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, before telling the audience that as a child, he donated $10 to Helms — his first political contribution, representing 20 weeks’ worth of his allowance — “’cause they were all beating up on him, they were coming after him hard, and I thought it wasn’t right.”
As Mother Jones reported, people “beat up” on Helms for his racist and homophobic beliefs, including statements that gay Americans were “weak, morally sick wretches;” his 1990 campaign commercial denouncing affirmative action as a “racial quota law;” and his 1983 filibuster against a bill to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday, among other incidents.
“It’s easy in this age to say that Helms, who carried his dislike of African-Americans like a badge of honor for 30 years around the U.S. Senate, was a son of the South who was simply honoring good, old-fashioned Southern values,” then-CNN contributor Roland S. Martin wrote following Helms’ death in 2008. “But when you stand in opposition to a bill that would, for the first time, give African-Americans from border to border the constitutionally guaranteed right to cast a vote, then I refuse to call you a stand-up person for the rights of every man, woman and child.”
Watch Cruz’s remarks, as posted by Mediaite on Wednesday, below.