HOUSTON -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who's made criticism of President Obama one of the foundations of his political career, is linking the Obama administration's rhetoric to the murder of a Houston area law enforcement officer.
Cruz's remarks come days after the death of Darren Goforth, a Harris County Sheriff's Office deputy shot dead for no apparent reason while pumping gas into his car.
Investigators have charged a young man named Shannon J. Miles who lives near the crime scene, but they've said his motive remains a mystery. Nonetheless, many people in law enforcement believe the murder was a consequence of anti-police rhetoric.
"I think the violence we're seeing directed at law enforcement is a direct manifestation of the harsh rhetoric and the vilification of police officers, of law enforcement that sadly has come all the way from the top," Cruz said. "Over and over again, President Obama and the Department of Justice and senior administration officials have chosen to vilify law enforcement."
Cruz's remarks came after a business luncheon sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership where the senator observed a moment of silence in Goforth's honor. His statements to reporters after the meeting echoed in almost the same words remarks he made the previous day during a presidential campaign appearance in New Hampshire.
"It does not help to have the president of the United States and the Department of Justice and senior federal officials holding up and lambasting law enforcement," Cruz said.
On Monday afternoon, the White House issued a statement saying the president had telephoned the slain deputy's widow.
"On behalf of the American people, I offered Mrs. Goforth my condolences, and told her that Michelle and I would keep her and her family in our prayers," said the statement attributed to the president. "I also promised that I would continue to highlight the uncommon bravery that police officers show in our communities every single day. They put their lives on the line for our safety. Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable - an affront to civilized society."
Still, Cruz said the president and his administration have repeatedly cast law enforcement officers as villains in response to rioting in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo.
"Rhetoric and language have consequences," Cruz said. "It has consequences. And we are seeing over and over again police officers targeted. And the president has a powerful bully pulpit."