Live politics updates: GOP Texas rep. rips Cruz, says when crisis hits, 'I'm not going to go on some vacation'

by 24USATVFeb. 21, 2021, 6 p.m. 21
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US communicating with Iran about release of detained Americans

National security adviser Jake Sullivan was adamant that the Biden administration would make the safe return of Americans detained in Iran a key point in upcoming negotiations.

"We intend to very directly communicate with the Iranians about the complete and utter outrage, the humanitarian catastrophe that is the unjust, unlawful detention of American citizens in Iran," Sullivan told CBS News’ "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

Sullivan emphasized that "we will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner. It will be a significant priority of this administration to get those Americans safely back home."

Iran has consistently said that talks will not resume until the U.S. lifts sanctions, a move the Biden administration says can only happen if Iran comes back into compliance with its commitments under the nuclear deal.

"The U.S. will not be able to rejoin the nuclear pact before it lifts sanctions," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday. "Once everybody implements their side of obligations, there will be talks."

Sullivan told CBS News that President Joe Biden is "determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon" and that Iran had "not yet responded" to its messages urging them to rejoin the nuclear deal.

The impasse has complicated other negotiations between the nations, including on regional security and the repatriation of Americans imprisoned by Tehran.

There are currently at least five American citizens being detained by the Iranian government.

Arkansas GOP Gov. Hutchinson says he wouldn't support Trump in 2020

Asked Sunday whether he’d support former President Donald Trump in another presidential bid in 2024, Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson had a simple reply: "No, I wouldn't."

Hutchinson, a popular red state governor, argued that the GOP needed to listen to other voices in the party and not let itself be singularly defined by the former president.

"Well, he will only define our party if we let him define our party," Hutchinson said, noting that conservatives can still welcome Trump into events like the Conservative Political Action Conference, the high-profile conservative convention where Trump is scheduled to make his first major post-presidency speech.

The governor cautioned, however, that the party should also hear “those that have different points of view,” like Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, who Hutchinson said was “still arch-conservatives, but a different voice for the future of our party.”

Trump remains immensely popular with conservative leaning voters. In recent polls, over half of Republican voters said they’d support the former president in a 2024 bid. Other likely frontrunners included strongly Trump-aligned figures, like former Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

"We have got to respond and identify with the issues that gave him the first election and gave him support throughout his presidency," Hutchinson said, adding it was important to adopt some of Trump's message.

"We just got to handle it in a different way with different personalities," he argued.

Texas GOP Rep. McCaul: 'I'm not going to go on some vacation' during a crisis

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has been widely criticized after revelations that he traveled with his family to Cancun, Mexico, as his home state was suffering from deadly winter storms and rolling blackouts. The attacks gained popularity online, in traditional media and from some in Cruz’s own party.

"Look, when a crisis hits my state, I'm there. I'm not going to go on some vacation. I know Mr. Cruz called it a mistake, and he's owned up to that. But I think that was a big mistake,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday.

"Saturday Night Live" also mocked the Texas senator in its opening skit, with a character named "Bryant Cruz" attempting to escape to Mexico. "I deeply regret my actions over the last couple of days," the Cruz character says. "Mostly, flying United."

In the days since, the real Cruz has also been mocked for photos he’s posted to social media showing him carrying water bottles and other supplies. Several photos Cruz posted to Twitter captioned "#TexasStrong" garnered accusations of performative activism and fake compassion.

President Joe Biden visited former Sen. Bob Dole in his Washington, D.C., home Saturday evening. The White House told reporters he was visiting "his close friend." Dole and Biden served in the Senate together for decades.

Dole, 97, served in Congress from 1969 to 1996, a career during which the Kansas Republican was both majority leader and minority leader in the Senate and the Republican nominee for president in 1996. On Monday, he announced he’d been diagnosed with lung cancer.

"While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own," Dole said in a statement.

The White House did not announce the meeting before Biden made the visit, which lasted a little over an hour. Asked by reporters how the former senator is doing, Biden replied Dole was doing well. Dole is set to start treatment for his cancer in the coming week.

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