Washington (CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz apologized to a group of Filipino-American veterans on Tuesday for comparing his 21-hour quasi-filibuster to the Bataan Death March.
Inside the senator's Washington office, Cruz told Celestino Almeda, 96, and Jesse Baltazar, 93, that he was sorry for invoking one of the darkest chapters of World War II on the Senate floor last week.
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Cruz, one of the most vocal opponents of the Affordable Care Act, admitted that likening a marathon talk session to the forced march of prisoners by the Japanese to an imperial-controlled detention center - an event that claimed over an estimated 10,000 lives, including 650 Americans - was inartful.
"I apologize for causing offense," Cruz said. "I should not have said what I did."
The Texas Republican insisted he was not trying to compare his floor protest of President Barack Obama's health care law to the deadly march. Rather, Cruz was trying to thank his floor staff "for their service."
"It was in the context of thanking them that I thanked them for enduring and that's when I used the analogy," Cruz told the two men. "I was trying to say they endured a long period of their suffering not of their choosing."
Cruz went on to talk about his family’s experience with armed conflict, describing both his father's and his aunt's imprisonment and subsequent torture in Cuba.
"I, likewise, come from a family that has experienced the atrocities that one man can inflict on the other," Cruz said.
Still, the lawmaker reiterated that his comparison was "offensive" and also contextualized his remarks against the scope of problems facing most Americans.
"Our here talking is nothing compared to the suffering people all over this country are having," Cruz said.
Watch a portion of Cruz's meeting with the veterans below: