Cruz Responds to Richardson 'Hispanic' Jab

Texas Sen: I will not be drawn into a mud slinging battle

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) responded to former Ambassador Bill Richardson's (D.) bizarre statement that based on Cruz's position on immigration reform he "should not be considered a Hispanic" Monday on "Your World."

Cruz said attacks on his ethnicity indicates Ambassador Richardson does not want to debate the merits of immigration policy and as such the Texas senator will not be drawn into a "mud slinging battle":

NEIL CAVUTO: If you don't mind my diverting from online to commented that even some of your critics say were out of line on the part of our former Ambassador Bill Richardson, saying that you were not really Hispanic. That given your position and how we handle illegal immigration and the like. Despite your name, despite your background, despite all of that you're not Hispanic, what do you think of that?

TED CRUZ: Well, I don't know Governor Richardson. He and I have not met. He is certainly entitled to his positions. And his opinions. In my view, if people are insulting you, if they are attacking your ethnicity, that tends to indicate they don't want to engage in the substantive merits of the argument and I certainly have no interest in getting into any sort of mud slinging battle on that front. What we need to talk about this substance of the argument and in particular we need to be focusing on economic growth that enables more and more people to climb the economic ladder and reach the American dream. You know, Neil, 55 years ago my dad came from Cuba at age 18. He couldn't speak english. He had $100 sewn into his underwear, and that penniless immigrant washed dishes for 50 cents an hour, paid his way through school and was able start a small business and work towards the American dream. And I think what the Hispanic community wants and all Americans want is an economy and an environment where small businesses can prosper and where more and more people where anybody can start with nothing achieve anything. That's my focus, is expanding opportunity, not responding in kind to of whatever insults those on the other side may decide to hurl.

Earlier in the day, Ambassador Richardson attempted to make the case that his remarks were misinterpreted:

SHEPARD SMITH: Over the weekend, you said that the freshman senator out of Texas, Ted Cruz, shouldn’t be able to call himself Hispanic. What was that?

BILL RICHARDSON: No, that was a misunderstanding. I said that he shouldn’t be defined as a Hispanic. I’m a Hispanic. I don’t define myself just as a Hispanic, so that was misinterpreted.

Richardson's defense is disputable given his fairly direct allegations on ABC's This Week (2:19 mark):

ABC: Do you think he represents most Hispanics with his politics?

RICHARDSON: No, he’s anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform. I don’t think he should be defined as a Hispanic. He’s a politician from Texas, a conservative state, and I respect Texas’ choice.