Sen. Cruz walks out on Castro speech at Mandela memorial
December 11th, 2013
01:04 AM ET
12 months ago

Sen. Cruz walks out on Castro speech at Mandela memorial

(CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, part of a Congressional delegation at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, walked out of the service Tuesday while Cuban President Raul Castro delivered his speech.

"Sen. Cruz very much hopes that Castro learns the lessons of Nelson Mandela," his spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, said.

"For decades, Castro has wrongly imprisoned and tortured countless innocents. Just as Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, Castro should finally release his political prisoners. He should hold free elections, and once and for all, set the Cuban people free."

ABC News first reported this story.

President Barack Obama, along with former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attended the event in Johannesburg. Before eulogizing the former South African, Obama shook Castro's hand as he walked onto the stage – a rare gesture between the leaders of two nations that have not shared diplomacy in over a half century.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Nelson Mandela • Ted Cruz
soundoff (810 Responses)
  1. Mr. TruthSlap

    What a SHOW... He walks Off on the Man his Father Served and still serves.

    December 11, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Hugh Jass

    " He was not disrespecting Mandela" Sure he was. This was Mandela's funeral, not Castro's or Cruz's. He used America's good name to spit on South Africa's savior. It won't be forgotten.

    December 11, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  3. Yea right

    Who is more of a nut: Ted Cruz or Tom Cruise?

    December 11, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. luke,az

    Cruz is not presidential nor senatorial for that matter.

    December 11, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. WanderingCPA

    You go Ted! Keep fighting yesterday's war. . . it will help to keep you irrelevant!

    December 11, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. paouser70

    ""Sen. Cruz very much hopes that Castro learns the lessons of Nelson Mandela," " – yeah, cause obviously teddy hasn't.....

    December 11, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Clear and Present Thinker

    I'm not sure of which is the greater embarrassment, Cruz or that fake sign language interpreter. Whatever, when Cruz left, he should have been told to keep walking all the way back to Texas.

    December 11, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. Brenda

    I am very proud of Ted Cruz for walking out on Castro's speech. Go Ted, we appreciate all you do for the American public. God Bless you Ted

    December 11, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. Anthony Talbert

    So! To the left, Mr. Obama shaking a dictator's hand is a "rare gesture" but Mr. Cruz is being "mean spirited" by walking out!
    Amazing! As for what is wrong with Texas - not much compared to most other states. As for the list of men given by pjaswla, they are all better and more honest men than the present occupant of the White House.

    December 11, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  10. janis zichmanis

    Thanks to Ted Cruz, the rest of the world can see that the Ugly American is alive and well.

    December 11, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Rudy NYC: "Of course, Cruz knew exactly what he planned to do ... "

    If Cruz waxed eloquent and sung the praises of Nelson Mandela simply to attend his memorial because Cruz wanted to pander to his base by walking out on Raul Castro, I can only say it backfired on Cruz big time.

    December 11, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. sergio

    This “bigot” Ted Cruz, a tea-party republican needs to learn the lessons of Nelson Mandela, as he choose to politicized the funeral of Nelson Mandela, by walking out of the service while Cuban President Raul Castro delivered his speech, Sen. Cruz insulted the people of South Africa, and the memory of a man that united a nation by forgiving the people that put him in jail…

    December 11, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. RF

    Classy but all of it low class. to make a political statement at a funeral shows Cruz will stop at nothing to put his selfish misguided ignorant self into the press. This is probably why he went in the first place. BONUS POINTS!

    December 11, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. bob

    It's a shame that many commenters here think Castro is a Saint. Ted had every right to walk out while a monster spoke at the memorial of one of the greatest humans ever to walk the Earth. I know it is easy to forget that people a few hundred miles from American shores are being persecuted but it's true. Until Castro gives his people basic rights, we don't have to give him the right to be heard.

    December 11, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Anthony Talbert

    Or perhaps those people living under a dictator can see that there is at least ONE American politician who stands up for them!

    December 11, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  16. lionhart

    One major characteristic of a leader is tolerance of which Cruz has NONE.

    December 11, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Not a big fan of Cruz, however, I do not find what he did in this instance necessarily horrible. To have someone who is currently imprisoning thousands for their political ideologies speak at Nelson Mandela's memorial is wrong. That being said I am not as familiar with the political situation in Cuba as I was once. As far as Cruz and the United States in general being hypocrites, I do not hold to the belief that arresting people for marijuana constitutes political persecution as some of you seem to be implying. I feel that this was a an appropriate response for someone who was criticized by his own political party for going in the first place.

    December 11, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. James

    Not a big fan of Cruz, however, I do not find what he did in this instance necessarily horrible. To have someone who is currently imprisoning thousands for their political ideologies speak at Nelson Mandela's memorial is wrong. That being said I am not as familiar with the political situation in Cuba as I was once. As far as Cruz and the United States in general being hypocrites, I do not hold to the belief that arresting people for marijuana constitutes political persecution as some of you seem to be implying. I feel that this was a an appropriate response for someone who was criticized by his own political party for going in the first place.

    December 11, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. plusonegolfer

    Yesterday people were bashing Obama for shaking the guys hand, but when Cruz walks out on the guy's speech this is somehow bad too. Which is it?

    December 11, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. John

    I'm not of fan of Ted Cruz, but your front page headline made it sound like he was disrespecting Mandela. He was disrespecting Castro. That was clear bias on CNN's part.

    December 11, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. Anthony Talbert

    So? According to RF it is "low class" to walk out on a dictator but quite ok to be laughing and joking and taking a picture of oneself while doing it.

    Leftist elitist snobs continue to amaze me in their blind support of Mr. Obama

    December 11, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. Boo

    Another hypocritical posturing politician.

    December 11, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. Used to be a republican but never Again

    Sigh ! Wow GOP , you really thought this guy was somebody to get behind ? A truly sad and embarrassing spectacle ! Not the time nor the place . Just make's you want to shake your head in disbelief !

    December 11, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. la_dude2k

    Did we learn a lesson too? Until 2008, Mandela was on our terrorist watch list.

    December 11, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. Rememberwhatbushdid

    First, Ted Cruz trying to make a political statement at a funeral is grossly inappropriate, no matter your ideology. Believe it or not Ted, this funeral was not about you, nor were you supposed to be the center of attention. What an embarrassment for America. Second, the gesture of President Obama shaking hands with the President of neighboring Cuba shows the very distinct contrast between the Tea Party types and mainstream America. The people of America seek to be friends, and at the very least, seek to discuss differences in the hope of finding tolerance and cooperation. The Tea Party types are the very definition of "Ugly American" with their self-righteous zealotry and their condescending selfishness. The world is diverse, and it should be celebrated and appreciated, not abused or feared. Thank God we have an open-minded President who values decency and hope instead of aclosed-minded, me-firsters like Cruz.

    December 11, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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