Cruz: Iran swap is 'propaganda' for Obama
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Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzOvernight Defense: Senators go to White House for North Korea briefing | Admiral takes 'hit' for aircraft carrier mixup | Lawmakers urged to beef up US missile defense Senators get North Korea briefing in unusual WH visit Overnight Tech: FCC chief unveils plan for net neutrality rollback | Tech on Trump's sweeping tax plan | Cruz looks to boost space industry 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 RubioWhat’s with Trump’s spelling mistakes? Boeing must be stopped from doing business with Iran Top Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms 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?’ ”