GOP congressman: Ted Cruz was playing to Tea Party in 'self-serving' speech to Christians

A Republican congressman criticized party colleague Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Wednesday for his remarks to a group of Middle Eastern Christians, suggesting that Cruz instigated the negative response that led to him being booed off the stage.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who attended the event Wednesday night, told the Washington Post that he wondered if Cruz's speech was meant "for another audience" -- specifically Tea Party Republicans.

"He was speaking to people outside of the building," Dent was quoted as saying. "It was a willful and deliberate confrontation, and very self-serving."

Cruz was reportedly not using notes or a teleprompter during his appearance at a fundraiser for In Defense of Christians when the audience began booing him when he said, "Christians have no greater ally than Israel." Cruz accused the attendees booing him as being "consumed with hate" before cutting his speech short and leaving the stage.

"I support Israel, but what Senator Cruz did was outrageous and incendiary," said Dent, who was reportedly sitting in the front row at the event. "He showed a true lack of sensitivity for the people he was speaking to, especially the religious leaders who were there. It was a political speech, inappropriate and, overall, an uncomfortable moment."

Dent also publicly blamed Cruz last October for causing the government shutdown over his insistence on defunding the Affordable Care Act.

"Senator Cruz failed to deliver the votes in the Senate," Dent told Salon at the time. "The bottom line is that Senator Cruz's tactic was not successful. He was unable to deliver. He failed to get the votes."