Heard on the Hill

Ted Cruz is Really, Really Passionate About Cheese

Queso is a ‘visceral, emotional, powerful family bond’

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, right, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sample Arkansas cheese dip and Texas queso during a contest in the Capitol between the two states. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When it comes Texas queso, Sen. Ted Cruz will go to great lengths to defend his state.

“Queso is made to be scooped up with tortilla chips, dribbling down your chin,” he said in his passionate plea to prove in a press scrum that Texas queso is better than Arkansas cheese dip. “It just tastes good, it speaks to the soul. Good queso relaxes you.”

On Wednesday during the Republican Senate Steering Committee lunch in the Capitol, all 54 senators experienced a blind taste test and voted in ballot boxes for which dip they liked better.

The event was sparked after a Twitter debate between Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and John Cornyn of Texas over which state’s dip was better following a Wall Street Journal article on Nov. 2 that said Arkansas is laying claim to queso.

“Cheese dip can be served on a Ritz cracker,” Cruz said as Cornyn walked up with a confused look on his face. “One is a visceral, emotional, powerful family bond as you and your kids pour into nachos covered in queso, and the other is party favors at an afternoon tea. As for me, my heart lies with the great state of Texas.”

Cotton wasn’t present because his wife was expected to give birth to their second child on Wednesday.

But, he tweeted to announce that his state won the competition.

“I’m very happy for him. We can all have different excuses, certainly he’s got a good excuse,” Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, said.

“He’s got the perfect excuse,” Cornyn said.

Cruz was talking smack.

“It’s a wonderful thing that he and his wife are welcoming a baby but I will say, it says something about Tom’s fear of defending Arkansas cheese dip that he would plan 10 months ago to have the birth date precisely coincide just so he could not have the burden of having to defend the indefensible,” he said.

“I don’t know how to respond to that,” Boozman said.

Boozman held down the fort in the press scrum for his colleague on father duty.

“I was really sad. Somebody in Texas said — we have a queso trail of 19 different stops — and somebody said the 19 different stops sounded like what you get when you eat some bad queso in Arkansas,” he said.

Arkansas’ cheese dip flew in staffers’ luggage from Heights Taco & Tamale Co. in Little Rock. The Texas queso was picked up from Uncle Julios, a Dallas-based restaurant with a branch in Arlington, Virginia.

"My only concern is the chili con queso from Texas may have a bit of spice in it and may be a little much for the tender palletes,” Cornyn said.

“So we’re already hearing excuses,” Boozman said.

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