Republican presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke prepping run for governor in Texas: report Support for Abbott plunging in Texas: poll White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE on Tuesday pledged not to provide gluten-free meals to the troops as he lashed out against political correctness.
"[T]he last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he is getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments — or providing gluten-free MREs," Cruz said in a speech aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C., according to CNN.
The provision of gluten-free meals depends on the military branch, a spokesman for the Department of Defense told TIME.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, about 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease — an autoimune disorder making a person intolerant to gluten.
Cruz looked to gain support among military voters — a critical voting bloc in the South Carolina primary — as he touted a Reagan-style military policy that he said would return the United States to a global position of strength.
"I am confident that if we put in the hard work we can, as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, rebuild our military so it will be so feared by our enemies and trusted by our allies that, God willing, we won't have to use it," Cruz said.