Cruz: Iran swap is 'propaganda' for Obama

Getty Images

Sen. Ted CruzTed Cruz100 days to go in volatile race Voting Trump because of the Supreme Court isn't enough Trump blames GOP as Dems top RNC ratings MORE (R-Texas) on Saturday denounced the U.S. prisoner swap with Iran as “propaganda” for both sides. 

Like several other Republican presidential candidates, Cruz said he was happy that the four Americans were being freed from Iran and coming home, but criticized the release of seven Iranians charged for violating sanctions in return. 

“While we celebrate their return, this deal serves as a piece of propaganda for both Iran and the Obama administration,” Cruz said at a Tea Party convention in South Carolina. 

He went on to denounce the nuclear deal with Iran more broadly, and the images this week of U.S. sailors on their knees with hands on their heads after being detained for venturing into Iranian waters, before being released. 

“If I’m elected president, our sailors will never be on their knees,” he said. 

Cruz did not attack any of his rivals by name. GOP front-runner Donald Trump is set to speak at the same event later Saturday afternoon. 

Cruz and Trump, who once had something of a non-aggression pact earlier in the campaign, have been engaged in an escalating fight recently, particularly over Cruz’s suggestion that Trump represents “New York values.”

Trump has responded by invoking the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

Cruz did contrast himself with the rest of the Republican field more broadly by arguing he had taken action to fight liberal policies, while his rivals had just talked. 

He cited in particular his stand against ObamaCare during the 2013 shutdown and his efforts against the immigration reform bill that was supported by Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioFlorida: 'High likelihood' of first Zika transmission in the US Overnight Healthcare: Rubio presses Obama to spend Zika money | FDA moves ahead with trans fat ban The Trail 2016: Her big night MORE (R-Fla.). 

“If you’re not willing to stand up when the fight is happening, you’re not going to do anything different when you get elected,” Cruz said. 

Instead, he implored the audience, “Ignore the campaign rhetoric and simply say, ‘Who’s been walking the walk?’ ”

More in Presidential races

Manafort: 'Not true' that people don't want to speak at GOP convention

Read more »