(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.
Good job! The GOP keeps digging themselves into a deeper hole. I love it. Can't wait for Democrats to win the next election.... again :)
What a shameful thing to do at Mandela's memorial. This is not a UN speech for you to simply walk out. I am educated. And level headed. And I am an independent. What idiot Cruz did was unexceptionally insensitive to South Africa. Extremely dishonorable to Nelson Mandela. Cruz has shown what a poor judgement, he has. Absolutely devoid of common sense.
54 years of ignoring/taunting Castro hasn't worked. It looks like these guys would try the carrot instead of the stick. These guys had their chance to open up Cuba over 2 decades ago when the Soviet Union fell, but kept on with more of the same nonsense that obviously doesn't work.
This is an embarrassment to the USA. Mr Cruz has the choice of whether or not to attend the funeral. If you make the choice to go, you act respectfully, regardless of your personal feelings about other attendees.
Grandstanding, pure and simple. While I am not going to defend the apparent Obama selfiie, at least Obama did not travel all the way to South Africa (on the taxpayers dime by the way) to perform such a cynically calculated stunt. Cruz is just pandering to the fringe that thinks he is anything more than a manipulative opportunist.
@ 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.
If Cruz had that big of a problem with Castro, then he should never have attended.
If Cruz did not know that Castro would be in attendance and possibly speaking, then he should have checked his ego at the door.
If Cruz knew that Castro would be speaking, then his will ignorance was on display.
If Cruz thinks that all of this was a good diea, then his poor strategizing skills have bitten him once again.
Cruz acts like a spoiled child...he doesn't show dignity with his behavior nor does it reflect positively on the image of America. I'm not surprised...the man is all about making political gestures... even at a memorial! It's nauseating.
Cruz is going the way of Palin. Put him on FOX Noise and give him his own huntin' show, and let us be rid of him.
Anything outside of Dr Suess is beyond his comprehension. Plus nothing rhymes with Castro.
He disrespected Mr. Mandela spirit and what his life was about.
What a silly silly showboat. Embarrassing that he carries a title as part of our government.
Perhaps THIS is why President Obama shook Raul Castro's hand? To mitigate Sen. Cruz' rudeness?
Is this guy a tool or what?
Castro and fellow Marxist films roussef were invited to speak. If Cruz didn't care for the agenda he should have stayed. Surprised he wasn't waving a confederate flag during the proceedings
can't believe he shook the hand of the enemy this guy needs to be investigated for treason
I was wondering why he was going to the memorial service. To grand stand, of course. DUH!
Just plain rude.
Obama was flirting and taking selfies your point?
It is Disrespectful. When you mourn someone, it's not about you. It's about the person who just died. You leave your beliefs and values out. I would ask anyone who did that to leave if anyone do that to my friends or family.
Doesn't Cruz look like McCarthy? Has the same mentality too.
Has he no shame?
The republican party has forgotten that Reagan him self sold weapons secretly to IRAN to fund a dictators death squads fighting against a popular peoples uprising :/ Get real or stay stupid republican party.
Wow! And this guy wants to move up in politics? What's next: an homage to Che or Adolph for the holidays? Again, EXACTLY what's wrong in Washington. And yet we Americans wonder why the world community doesn't particularly care for us.......very poor ambassadors. Shame on Cruz! He's a pitiful "man".
If there was ever a time for tolerant understanding of someone's differences, this event was it. Cruz blew it
I hope he pays the taxpayers back for this trip.
Cruz is a vile, disgusting individual, everyone who has agreed with what he did are also vile, disgusting individuals.
He disrespected America who he was representing, he disrespected his constituents who he represents and more important he disrespected the sacred time of a funeral/memorial service.
I wonder how many sacred family funerals he's walked out on because he does not like who was delivering a eulogy, I bet none. This was a deliberately calculated, self centered act for his own self gain and I hope it backfires on him.
I truly hope when it comes to election time that the voters do the right thing and remind him of his actions at funeral/memorial services. If he is not forced to resign earlier.