(CNSNews.com) – Conservative leaders are voicing their support for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) after the freshman senator came under fire from some Senate colleagues and liberal pundits for his tough questioning of Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, criticism that included equating Cruz with the late anti-communist Senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wisc.)
“Senator Ted Cruz came to Washington to advance conservative policies, not play by the same old rules that have relegated conservatives, and their ideas, to the back bench,” Michael Needham, president of the influential Heritage Action said on Tuesday. “It should come as absolutely no surprise the Washington Establishment – be it the liberal media, entrenched special interests or even wayward Republicans – are now attacking him in the press for following through on his promises.”
Frank Cannon, president of the American Principles Project, said: “It’s about time someone annoyed those who have been complacent in doing what is necessary to get the country back on track. We applaud Senator Ted Cruz’s dedication to conservative principles and being an articulate spokesman for those principles. We are pleased he is shaking up Washington and doing exactly what the people of Texas elected him to do.”
Cruz came under fire last week after tough questioning of Hagel, nominated by President Barack Obama to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Cruz – in a move not seen in Senate confirmation hearings – used video recording of Hagel’s own statements to question the nominee and asked particularly tough questions concerning Hagel’s finances.
MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)
MSNBC host Chris Matthews said on Feb. 14 that Cruz’s questioning reminded him of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-Wisc.) anti-communism investigations, calling the conservative senator from Texas a jackal.
“You know, I don't often say it, and I rarely say it, but there was echoes of Joe McCarthy there. Really strong echoes,” Matthews said on his Hardball program. “Well, the jackals are in the street tonight.”
Some senators, who refused to be named, reportedly criticized Cruz anonymously, telling Politico that the new senator’s style would hurt his ability to “be an influential legislator.”
“They don’t get to know the Senate or the other senators, they just start talking, and that takes away from [Cruz’s] ability to be an influential legislator,” an anonymous Republican senator apparently told Politico on Feb. 14.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) echoed the Joe McCarthy comparisons, warning that Cruz should be “more careful” with his public statements.
“In this country we had a terrible experience with innuendo and inference when Joe McCarthy hung out in the United States Senate, and I just think we have to be more careful,” she told the New York Times on Feb. 15.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) also criticized Cruz saying that the Texas senator should not have been “disrespectful.”
L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Media Research Center and chairman of ForAmerica.
“All I can say is that the appropriate way to treat Senator Hagel is to be as tough as you want to be, but don’t be disrespectful or malign his character,” McCain told the Times.
Conservative leaders defended Cruz, saying that the Tea Party favorite was doing exactly what his supporters wanted him to do: rock the boat in Washington.
“Senator Cruz is committed to repealing ObamaCare, preserving the Second Amendment, lowering taxes and reducing government spending. For advancing these conservative principles, he is under attack. Rather than whispering condemnation off the record to reporters, GOP senators should follow his lead, said ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell.
One of Cruz’s early supporters, David Bossie of Citizens United, praised Cruz for “fighting the tough fights.”
“Citizens United Political Victory Fund was an early supporter of Ted Cruz and we are encouraged that he is standing up to the establishment as a U.S. senator,” said Bossie. “Fighting the tough fights for conservative principles is why Ted Cruz was elected to the U.S Senate.”