Ted Cruz’s Wednesday was filled with Manhattan fundraisers and cable news appearances—a typical schedule for a presidential candidate at this stage of the race. But absent from his busy day were two important Senate hearings involving issues that he has made a central part of his campaign.
Instead of listening to testimony in a committee room in Washington, the senator opted to hobnob with Wall Street backers and appear on Fox News. That probably would have gone unnoticed if the hearings had not featured high-profile witnesses discussing ISIS and immigration—two issues he’s tried to make central to his presidential effort. It’s a move that could undermine his efforts to present himself as a tough-on-ISIS defense hawk.
The first hearing Cruz ditched featured FBI Director James Comey, a favorite of Capitol Hill Republicans because of his willingness to confront the president on crime rates and policing. Comey appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the San Bernardino shooting that left 14 Americans dead, and broke an important piece of news: that the two alleged perpetrators, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, became radicalized at least two years ago. Malik got a fiancée visa despite this—potentially casting doubt on the government’s immigrant screening process.
While Comey discussed these new developments Cruz was on Fox News, discussing why he is grateful that Donald Trump is running for president and why Marco Rubio is running false attack ads against him (which, yep, pretty much).
Cruz also skipped a second terror-related hearing on Wednesday. National Review reported the senator was the only Republican absent during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on America’s strategy to combat ISIS (a strategy, by the way, that isn’t exactly working out so well).
Cruz has never been shy about blasting the president’s anti-terror strategy, and just last week he argued at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting that he was uniquely positioned to rectify the Middle East mess. And he’s said repeatedly that if elected president, he will “direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS.”
But when Secretary of Defense Ash Carter appeared before the committee to testify about just how exactly the Department of Defense is taking on ISIS, Cruz watched a portion of the hearing from a split screen while appearing on America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer in Manhattan,” according to the National Review.
In other words, Cruz skipped a hearing on terrorism to talk about how tough he’ll be on terrorism.
But he didn’t just fit in a TV hit while he was in the Big Apple. He also scheduled a fundraising lunch in Midtown co-hosted by Joseph Konzelmann, a Goldman Sachs managing director. Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is also a managing director for Goldman but has taken a leave of absence to help with her husband’s campaign. The senator told Bloomberg Politics in March that the bank has been benefited from crony capitalism.
The event also featured Kellyanne Conway, who heads one of the super PACs supporting him—which was unusual since, as The Wall Street Journal noted, it seems perilously close to violating rules that PACs and campaigns not coordinate.
Cruz isn’t the only presidential candidate to shirk his Capitol Hill responsibilities to hit the trail and the pocketbooks of donors, of course. John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton all drew criticism for missing votes while running for president. And during this cycle, Sen. Marco Rubio has taken largely non-stop heat for missing a significant number of votes and committee hearings. Cruz’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on his decision to skip the hearings.