Sen. Ted Cruz: ‘I Want to Start by Doing Something That I Don’t Do Very Often, Which Is Commending Joe Biden'

Melanie Arter | February 6, 2023 | 12:24pm EST
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Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 19, 2022. (Photo by WADE VANDERVORT/AFP via Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (Photo by WADE VANDERVORT/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) commended President Biden on Sunday for having the “guts” to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon, but he said Biden “allowed a full week for the Chinese to conduct spying operations over the United States” before doing so.

“I want to start by doing something that I don't do very often, which is commending Joe Biden for actually having the guts to shoot this down. That was the right thing to do. That is absolutely what the president should have done,” Cruz told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“Unfortunately, he didn't do that until a week after it entered U.S. airspace. He allowed a full week for the Chinese to conduct spying operations over the United States, over sensitive military installations, exposing not just photographs, but the potential of intercepted communications, and more broadly, I think this entire episode telegraphed weakness to Xi and the Chinese government, and to illustrate why, I would just ask one -- one hypothetical question,” he said.

“Imagine how this would have played out if nobody had taken any pictures of the balloon, if nobody in Montana had looked up and noticed this giant balloon, if it wasn't in the news,” the senator said. 

“We know that when the Biden administration knew about the balloon, they said nothing, they did nothing, they didn't shoot it down, and, at the end of the day, I think the only reason they shot it down is because it made it into the news, and they felt forced to, as a matter of politics, rather than national security. That's a bad message for the Chinese government to hear,” Cruz said.

Host Margaret Brennan pointed out that according to the Pentagon, this “happened four times before - never quite like this - back in 2020,” and the Trump administration “shuttered the Chinese Consulate in Houston after detecting espionage.

When asked whether there needs to be more diplomatic fallout on that scale now, Cruz said, “Look, I think there does. When the Trump administration shut the Chinese Consulate in Houston, I spoke with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, about it, and what they had discovered about the espionage activities being carried out in the state of Texas by the Chinese government was horrifying.

“Right now, there is a Texan, Mark Swidan, who is a political prisoner. He is a hostage in China. He's been there for 10 years. This past week, I introduced a resolution on the floor of the Senate, along with John Cornyn, calling on China to release Mark Swidan. He's wrongfully imprisoned. He's been there 10 years,” he said.

“They've sentenced him to death on charges for which they have little to no evidence, and I had been urging Tony Blinken, when he was going to Beijing, to raise Mark Swidan's case and to make the case for Mark to be released,” the senator said.

“China, if they want to demonstrate that they're not bad actors, if they want to demonstrate that they can aspire to being a great nation, they should release Mark Swidan because great nations and great powers don't hold political prisoners,” Cruz said.

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