Ted Cruz continues his bold crusade against masks

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The Texas senator has expressed scorn for the virus safety measure since the beginning of the pandemic.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday refused a reporter's request that he wear a mask during a break on the final day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation hearing.

Cruz had participated virtually in the hearing on Monday due to recent exposure to several senators who'd tested positive for coronavirus, but returned in person Tuesday.

Video footage showed Cruz removing his mask Thursday as he and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) walked toward the reporter pool. Asked by a CNN reporter if he would put his mask back on, Cruz flatly told the reporter "no."

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He said that he was "standing six feet apart" and claimed that's what the "CDC guideline is."

Graham, for his part, kept his mask on.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in fact recommends that individuals both socially distance and wear masks, particularly in indoor settings with poor ventilation.

Cruz's track record of respect for CDC guidelines on mask-wearing is shaky at best.

In September, when Donald Trump contradicted CDC Director Robert Redfield on the efficacy of masks, calling Redfield "confused" and saying he had "misunderstood" the effects of wearing masks, Cruz chalked the controversy up to political posturing.

Cruz said he could not control what Trump does or does not say, but that "47 days out from a presidential election ... every word that everyone utters is viewed through the political lens" and "used by his political enemies to attack him."

He added that Trump's response to the crisis had been "extraordinary."

Cruz's aversion to mask-wearing goes back much earlier in the pandemic.

In July, a photo of the Texas senator went viral when he was snapped without a mask on an American Airlines flight, prompting an investigation into the matter by the airline, which requires all passengers to wear face coverings unless eating or drinking.

Soon after, Cruz did an interview with Dana Loesch, former National Rifle Association spokesperson, in which he complained that it was a "Democratic political operative" that photographed him.

"Goodness gracious, he doesn't have a mask!" Cruz mocked the original photographer.

He claimed he was wearing a mask for the entire rest of the flight and had simply removed it to have a cup of coffee.

"It's awfully hard to get coffee in your mouth while wearing a mask," he said.

He went on to complain that everything has "become so politicized." Cruz said he employed common sense and wore a mask sometimes, if he "go(es) out to a grocery store or something," but that he doesn't "understand why it's such a political statement."

"You see people on the left, where wearing a mask is this 'virtue signal," Cruz added.

He then openly mocked a colleague for wearing a mask while giving a speech on the Senate floor.

Asked by Loesch to weigh in on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's mask mandate, newly imposed at the time, Cruz said he "tried to hold back" from "throwing rocks at the governor," but that he was opposed to the mask mandate.

He did praise Abbott for "resisting another lockdown," however.

Cruz, like many other senators, was recently exposed to COVID-19 during an outbreak at the White House and on Capitol Hill. He self-quarantined due to close contact with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who had tested positive.

Having just emerged from quarantine, Cruz's response to reporters at the Barrett hearing was startling.

His anti-science posturing is far from isolated among GOP figures, however. Sen. Lee as well as North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who both recently tested positive, also appeared in person at the Barrett hearing and spoke without masks.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also refused to speak to reporters Monday if he was required to wear a mask.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.