Politics

Cruz Beefing With Former Iran President (No, Seriously) Over Kaepernick

Texas Republican groups together Ahmadinejad, Kaepernick, and Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sparred with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

What happens when a holocaust-denying former Iranian president, a former NFL starting quarterback, and a Texas Democratic candidate for Senate walk into a room?

No one knows.

But Sen. Ted Cruz thinks they would have a lot in common.

The Texas Republican’s opponent for re-election this November, Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, went viral after a video surfaced of him defending Kaepernick and other NFL players who have knelt during the national anthem before their games to protest racial injustice.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also appears to be a Kaepernick fan, based on a tweet he sent out on Labor Day supporting the quarterback-activist.

That prompted a sharp response from Cruz, who pounced on the opportunity to tie his campaign opponent to the former Iranian dictator who rose to power on a highly nationalistic, anti-West message and shoveled billions of dollars into the country's weapons program from 2005 to 2013.

“When a radical anti-Semite, anti-American Iranian dictator emphatically agrees with you, maybe that’s a sign that Beto, the NFL, and Nike are all on the wrong side of the American people,” Cruz tweeted Monday.

Ahmadinejad replied Wednesday denying that he was not a dictator — Iran holds democratic elections, though candidates are vetted by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — and claiming that Kaepernick, O’Rourke and himself “love” the “American people.”

Ahmadinejad routinely claimed during his presidency that Jews invented the Holocaust. He said that AIDS was a disease invented by the West and that homosexual Iranians did not exist.

The former Iranian president still lives in his home country but tweets in English.

The Texas Senate campaign has garnered considerable media attention since O’Rourke announced his challenge to Cruz last year and has out-raised the incumbent in the last campaign finance reporting quarters.

President Donald Trump won the state by 9 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

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