John McCain says that Ted Cruz owes Bob Dole an apology, and Dole says Cruz should "check my voting record."
Appearing on Andrea Mitchell Reports on Friday, the Arizona Republican said that Cruz unfairly described Dole as one of several past presidential candidates who failed to “stand for principle” during a speech Thursday at the CPAC convention.
“All of us remember President Dole, and President McCain and President Romney,” Cruz told the crowd. “Those are good men, they're all decent men but when you don't stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don't stand for principle Democrats celebrate."
Asked by NBC News to respond to the comments, Dole said "Cruz should check my voting record before making comments. I was one of President Reagan's strongest supporters, and my record is that of a traditional Republican conservative."
McCain said he and Romney can take the criticism but that Cruz "crossed a line" by dinging Dole.
“He can say what he wants to about me, he can say anything he wants to about Mitt. Mitt can take it,” McCain told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell of Cruz. “But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on a hilltop in Italy when he was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country.”
In a statement, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said the Texas senator "greatly respects" both lawmakers.
"As he noted in his speech, the Senator greatly respects these men, particularly the heroic military service of Sens. Dole and McCain," Frazier said. "Suggesting anything otherwise is just an unnecessary distraction. He will not hesitate to talk about substantive matters of conservative principle that are important to bringing Republicans to victory - even if others may disagree."