This weekend, conservatives across the country descended on Florida to shirk pandemic precautions at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual conservative conference in the country.
As is tradition at CPAC, several unofficial candidates for the Republican nomination for President addressed attendees, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was no different.
Cruz's speech checked a number of conservative boxes: glorifying violence against protesters, lamenting the pervasiveness of so-called cancel culture, praising former President Donald Trump, and—of course—lambasting Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
The Congresswoman, colloquially known as "AOC," is a favorite target of the right for her unabashed progressive stances on climate policy, healthcare and education access, as well as immigrant rights.
In his widely mocked CPAC speech, Cruz said of AOC:
"We are gathered in dark times. We're gathered at a time where the hard left, where the socialists control the levers of government, where they control the White House, where they control every executive branch, where they control both houses of Congress. Bernie is wearing mittens, and AOC is telling us she was murdered."
Cruz was mocking Ocasio-Cortez's viral video about the fear and trauma she experienced in the Capitol riots of January 6, when a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the United States Capitol to overturn the results of the 2020 election. AOC recounted earlier this month that she feared for her life during the attacks, and at least one rioter called for her assassination.
Republicans like Cruz—who helped amplify the lies that prompted the riots—mocked her for recounting the experience.
AOC responded to Cruz's ridicule on Twitter.
I don’t care what Cruz said at CPAC, but I do care that it appears Texas was just a layover stop for him between Ca… https://t.co/j9P5pUfKun— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1614552875.0
Ocasio-Cortez slammed Cruz for taking a Cancún vacation as millions of his constituents faced freezing temperatures with no electricity or heat due to widespread blackouts. Around 40 people died as a result of the outages and frigid weather.
After widespread backlash, Cruz returned from the trip early and soon posted photos of him putting bottles of water in the trunk of a car.
#TexasStrong https://t.co/gK4DHtsvLU— Senator Ted Cruz (@Senator Ted Cruz)1613879452.0
For her part, Ocasio-Cortez used her massive following to raise over $5 million for Texas relief efforts in under a week.
As Texans grappled with stratospheric energy bills in the fallout of the crisis, Cruz jetted off to Orlando to deliver his CPAC speech.
It may not come as a surprise that people sided with AOC.
This all day long! #Preach https://t.co/QB0cVkoQHg https://t.co/EgPGHda3GP— Jaime Harrison, DNC Chair (@Jaime Harrison, DNC Chair)1614563697.0
Couldn’t agree with you more! https://t.co/6g9xbs9aDF— TDZ AKA Karaoke (@TDZ AKA Karaoke)1614572055.0
she doesn’t miss https://t.co/eVueOrsvbO— Hayden Ehlich (@Hayden Ehlich)1614580403.0
I absolutely agree with AOC, I also care that Ted Cruz continues to get away with his disgrace to the oath of offic… https://t.co/5UiiwzUkSq— David Weissman (@David Weissman)1614559965.0
Leaders lead by example, thank you for leading! https://t.co/RWpDrRYw7e— No One Under 60 Is Named Nancy (@No One Under 60 Is Named Nancy)1614608466.0
AOC cares way more about Texas than #CancunCruz ever did. https://t.co/TUHWXbrcW0— expobear (@expobear)1614575578.0
Meanwhile, the reviews for Cruz's CPAC address were...less than enthusiastic.
Watching Sen. Ted Cruz at CPAC. He is not as charismatic as a toadstool. He has transitioned into his Trumpian mod… https://t.co/FDVsAtWsgJ— John W. Dean (@John W. Dean)1614408645.0
Ted Cruz reminds us why it's so very important to work out your act in the small clubs before the big Netflix special at CPAC.— Willie Geist (@Willie Geist)1614356165.0
Ted Cruz just was screaming like an unhinged lunatic at CPAC. So, normal.— Scott Dworkin (@Scott Dworkin)1614356943.0
16 people froze to death in Cruz’s hometown of Houston and he turns bailing on them into a CPAC punchline. https://t.co/f7iLhgJxff— Adam Best (@Adam Best)1614359536.0
For all his efforts to embrace Trumpism in hopes of a 2024 run, Cruz only garnered a measly seven percent in CPAC's straw poll—a far cry from his first place standing at the 2016 conference.