Conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz explained Wednesday that his Christian faith was instrumental for his ability to forgive President Donald Trump for the hurtful things he said and tweeted during the 2016 presidential election.
Cruz, 49, spoke with ABC News' Paula Faris for her “Journeys of Faith” podcast this week over the phone in the middle of a busy voting day on Capitol Hill.
Cruz was asked specifically about how he was able to overlook the fact that Trump said some nasty things about him and his wife during the 2016 election when Cruz was arguably Trump’s most viable contender for the Republican nomination.
For example in March 2016, Trump tweeted a post comparing the looks of his own supermodel wife, Melania, and Cruz’s wife, Heidi, a managing director at Goldman Sachs. At the time, Cruz also accused the Trump campaign of organizing a National Enquirer story claiming Cruz had five mistresses.
Despite the tensions during the 2016 primary, Cruz is now one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the U.S. Senate.
“There is no doubt that forgiveness is critical to what it means to be a Christian,” Cruz told Faris. “I try to forgive, certainly. As God has forgiven us, we are commanded to do the same.”
He added that the call to forgive others is stated clearly in the Lord’s prayer.
“‘Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us,’” Cruz explained. “That is foundational. It is not easy. It is human to allow your feelings to be hurt and hold a grudge.”
“But at the same time, I do think one of the reasons I feel blessed to be a Christian is that politics can be ugly, hard work. People say nasty things. Harry Truman famously said, ‘If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.’”
After the primary election was over and Trump won, Cruz said he had a “simple choice” to make.
“I had a choice about whether or not to do my job,” he said. “We had obviously come through a rough and tumble primary. There were some hard shots that were thrown all around and that’s the democratic process.”
The son of Cuban immigrants said that his job was to “fight for 28 million Texans each and every day.”
“I could have taken my marbles and gone home and said, ‘You know what? My feelings were hurt and I don’t like some of the things you said and did. So I am not going to vote for you,’” Cruz said. “I think that would have been irresponsible. I think that would have been not doing the job Texans entrusted me to do.”
A week after Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election, Cruz said he met with Trump and his transition team at Trump Tower in New York City in November 2016.
“I met with the president-elect. I spent 4.5 hours with him and his senior team,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Mr. President, we have been given a historic opportunity. It is exceptionally rare to have Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House.’”
Cruz said he told Trump that he would do everything in his power to lead the fight in the Senate to deliver on the campaign promises they made. Cruz believed that if Republicans “blow this opportunity,” it “may never come again.”
Cruz touted his work in helping to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He said that the result has been the “lowest unemployment in 50 years.”
“We’ve got the lowest African-American unemployment ever recorded and the lowest Hispanic unemployment ever recorded,” he stated. “That’s transforming people’s lives.”
Cruz also said that he has worked hard to confirm the over 180 federal judges that Trump has nominated.
“[They are] judges who are committed constitutionalists who will protect the Bill of Rights and will protect religious liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment,” he told Faris. “That is a critical promise we made to the voters, a promise we delivered on.”