Ted Cruz bashes GOP leadership for siding with Obama on trade, reveals growing Republican rift
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A rift has been growing noticeably larger between GOP party leadership and some of its more extreme politicians, coming to a head today when ultra-conservative presidential candidate Ted Cruz chastised party leadership for punishing Republicans who tried to kill President Obama's trade policy, Vox reports.

Representatives Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, Steve Pearce, R-New Mexico, and Trent Franks, R-Arizona, were removed from the party's whip team. According to the News & Observer, they were among 34 Republicans who voted against a measure earlier this month paving the way for fast-track authority on the major Pacific trade deal linking the economies of dozens of nations.

Cruz called the punishment "shameful" during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Vox reports. But Speaker John Boehner supported it, Politico reports.

The New York Times revealed Boehner hasn't talked to Cruz since his 2012 election and was angered by Cruz' stirring up the far right, instigating a 2013 government shutdown which he had worked to avoid. When asked about the possibility of Cruz' presidency, Boehner responded by raising his middle finger.

According to the New York Times, the president's push on the Trans-Pacific Partnership is on track because Republicans - including long-time foe Mitch McConnell who had at one point vowed to "break" Obama, sided with him.

It comes at a time when conservatives are scrambling to either distance themselves from the Confederate flag and racist right wing groups, or doubling down after a white supremacist attacked a historically black church in Charleston, killing nine, including a state senator.

After vocally standing by the Confederate flag flying sky-high over South Carolina's statehouse for years, the party's mainstream joined protesters' calls to remove it, in a move The Hill calls a political maneuver.

Two of Cruz's campaign chairs defended the flag this week with a campaign spokesman for Cruz saying the candidate believes it should be decided on local grounds, Talking Points Memo reports.