DALLAS — Texas' new Republican U.S. Senator, Ted Cruz, visited Dallas Wednesday as part of his first multi-city tour since taking office and defended his recent questioning of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel.
Speaking at a West Dallas tool shop, Cruz said he won't change how he's pressing his divisive personal stamp on U.S. Senate politics.
"My approach in Washington has been very simple. It was exactly the same approach as the approach I took for two years on the campaign," Cruz said. "I do not think I would be doing my job representing 26 million Texans if I didn't go to Washington and ask the hard questions."
But some Senate Democrats say he went over the line of civility when he questioned — without evidence — where Hagel got money for speaking.
At the February 12 hearing of the Senate Armed Services committee, Cruz pressed Hagel to turn over financial information not required under committee rules.
"But it is at a minimum relevant to know that that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea," Cruz said.
Cruz is familiar with sometimes confronting opponents with questionable claims.
In the 2012 GOP senate primary campaign Cruz hammered Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for "promoting" a state income tax.
At the first big joint debate in Austin of the campaign in January, Cruz said, "The David Dewhurst income tax would've cost over 40,000 jobs in the State of Texas."
But fact checks by WFAA and the Austin American-Statesman's PolitiFact Texas called the claim false.
When Dewhurst aired ads later criticizing Cruz for representing a Chinese tire company that stole a U.S. inventor's tire design, Cruz asked Dewhurst at the Belo Debate in July how many millions he invested in China, suggesting a conflict of interest.
"He's got $200 million that are shrouded in secrecy and invested all over the world," Cruz said then.
At the time, Dewhurst said he didn't know.
Asked by reporters after the debate, Cruz could not substantiate whether Dewhurst had any investments in China. But he did promise voters he would be a fighter and would not go along to get along with other politicians. Cruz won big in the primary and general election.
He says Democrats now attack him personally in response for violating the Senate standards of "comity." But Cruz vows to remain resolute and follow his commitment to voters.
"I do not think 'comity' means avoiding the truth," he said.