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Republican presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE defended his attacks on rival Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE for embodying “New York values” at a campaign stop in the Bronx on Thursday, less than two weeks before the Empire State’s critical GOP primary.
Cruz said that when he uses the term “New York values,” he’s referring to the “liberal Democratic politicians” whose policies “have been hammering the people of New York for some time.”
The Texas senator ticked through a list of high-profile New York liberals and disgraced former officials from the state that he said have long been in the pocket of Trump. The billionaire businessman has admitted to donating to Republicans and Democrats alike to curry favor for his business interests.
“The people of New York know exactly what those values are — they’re the values of liberal Democrats like Andrew Cuomo, like Anthony Weiner, like Eliot Spitzer, like Charlie Rangel, all of whom Donald Trump has supported,” Cruz said.
“If you want to know what liberal democratic values are, follow Donald Trump’s checkbook,” he continued. “He has been funding these policies.”
For months, Cruz has been framing Trump — a Manhattan real estate mogul — as a Johnny-come-lately to conservative causes who has been shaped by the socially liberal values of deep-blue New York.
But now Cruz is having to defend those remarks in front of New Yorkers ahead of an April 19 primary, where Trump is the favorite to win a strong majority of the state’s 95 delegates.
The contest will go a long way in determining whether the front-runner reaches the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination.
Cruz on Thursday pointed to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as embodying “New York values,” saying the mayor’s efforts to shut down charter schools was disproportionately harmful to young minority students.
“One of the first things he did was try to shut down charter schools in Harlem because he’s captive to the union bosses who control him,” Cruz said. “So one of his first actions was to try to throw young African-American and Hispanic kids out of schools instead of giving them hope and giving them a lifeline. Those are the values.”
Cruz also lashed out at de Blasio for the frosty relationship that developed between the mayor and the city’s police after the death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, at the hands of officers in Staten Island in 2014.
The tensions came to a head when some officers turned their backs on de Blasio at a speech he gave after two officers were killed by a gunman.
“I’ll tell you, the moment when the brave people of the NYPD stood up and turned their backs on mayor Bill de Blasio, I cheered for those New York cops,” Cruz said.
“And I tell you — people all across America did. That spoke to the entire country that when you have politicians that will not stand with police officers and firefighters and first responders, and for that matter soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines, that’s an example of how these liberal politicians have forgotten who they are.”
The mayor's office rebuked Cruz for his comments. “Some friendly advice for Ted Cruz,” spokeswoman Karen Hinton wrote in an email to The Hill.
“Be a leader. Be a man. Start sounding more presidential and less extremist. Talk about NYC’s job growth, low crime rates, need for more affordable housing, parental leave and the city’s successful pre-K effort. Bring people together. Stop dividing them.”