Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas referenced 9/11 first responders during his Iowa caucus victory speech. Now firefighter unions have fired back, calling the presidential candidate a “disgusting” politician.
Cruz spoke of the courage of firefighters during his speech and said that U.S. President Barack Obama has not stood by them, The Huffington Post reports.
Cruz’s statement, according to The Post:
To the police officers, and the firemen and the first responders, the heroes who rushed into burning buildings instead of out of burning buildings -- the last seven years of having a president, having an attorney general that demonizes you, that vilifies you, that sides with the criminals and looters instead of the brave men and women of law enforcement — that will end of Jan. 20, 2017.
That statement won Cruz applause from his supporters that night but the scorn of firefighter unions who remember that the Texas senator had voted against reauthorizing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
The 9/11 first responders are dying, with many contracting illnesses related to the toxic fumes they had inhaled while sifting through the rubble of the Twin Towers. They had to lobby in Washington, D.C. to receive health care compensation to treat these ailments and then had to lobby again to have the program extended indefinitely.
Now the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) have issued statements chastising Cruz for using the first responders in his speech.
"What Ted Cruz did the other night in his Iowa victory speech is disgusting," IAFF president Harold Schaitberger said on Feb. 3. "He said he embraces fire fighters and the dangerous work they do, says he’s our friend and calls himself a great patriot. But when it came time to actually have the backs of fire fighters across the U.S., he was AWOL. Cruz is the worst kind of politician who will say or do anything to get elected."
UAF president Steve Cassidy penned an op-ed in New York Daily News on Feb. 2 to also shame the Texas senator who had previously called Trump non-conservative because he “had New York Values.”
“When it came time to do the right thing, presidential candidate Cruz turned his back on New York City firefighters,” Cassidy wrote. “He may think it helps him on the campaign trail to pay lip service to first responders. But his failure to support Zadroga demonstrates that what he says and does are two different things. We deserve better.”
In March 2015, Cruz gave a speech during the IAFF bipartisan presidential summit but was met with cold silence.
“I had to take a shower after listening to that,” Washington state IAFF leader Ricky Walsh told Bloomberg Politics.