Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) took time out from his trip to Israel on Sunday to call America's recent government shutdown nothing more than "political theater" during a phone interview with The Washington Times.
While in Israel with former U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council Chairman Fred S. Zeidman to discuss the possibility of a Nazareth campus of Texas A&M University, Perry explained, "The United States' reputation in Israel wasn't affected by the shutdown, because the Israelis understand that from time to time politicians in a democracy engage in political theater, which is what the shutdown was."
Having visited London for a plaque dedication prior to his stop in Jerusalem, Perry noted that no government officials in either city mentioned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the lawmaker who spearheaded the effort to tie government funding provisions to defunding the Affordable Care Act.
"No one has come up to me and even said the word 'Cruz' -- no, not once did I hear that," Perry said.
Throughout the 16-day government shutdown, several long-serving Republicans publicly criticized Cruz for damaging the GOP's image with inevitably unsuccessful defunding tactics.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Cruz's shutdown strategy "not a smart play" with "no chance of success," while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Cruz's mission a "fool's errand." Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) offered more pointed criticism, calling Cruz either a "fraud" or "totally incompetent."
On Sunday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) further highlighted the Republican Party's damaged reputation and advised Cruz and his fellow tea party politicians to "show a little self-restraint" instead of engaging in "political conversations that are not grounded in reality."