ABC News Radio

Posted by ABC News Radio on September 11, 2014 in News Clips

It’s not every day that you see a presidential contender getting booed off stage.

But that’s what happened Wednesday night when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, widely viewed as a likely Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, addressed a group called In Defense of Christians at a gala dinner for its inaugural summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C.

The video suggests, and Cruz’s office concurs, that the senator was booed and jeered for speaking favorably about Israel.

The video is missing some context and begins after Cruz has already been interrupted and as an apparent organizer urges “respect for dialogue.” Audience members shout at Cruz, who says he is “saddened.”

“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” Cruz says, and walks off the stage to some applause and a good number of jeers.

The group says it advocates for Christian communities in the Middle East. Its advisory board includes former attorney general John Ashcroft, former transportation secretary Ray Lahood, and Arab American Institute president James Zogby, according to its website. Its executive director is a former State Department representative to UNESCO.

“Tonight in Washington should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself ‘In Defense of Christians.’ Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred,” Cruz said in a written statement on the event.

Many in the audience applauded him, Cruz said in the statement, but a “vocal minority” shouted him down. As Cruz was making that point to the crowd Wednesday night, one man shouted that it was “most of us” who disagreed with him. In his statement, Cruz said he spoke to the group in the hopes of talking about persecution of Christians at the hands of ISIS, against which he has railed before.

“But bigotry and hatred have no place in this discussion. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight,” Cruz said. “After just a few minutes, I had no choice. I told them that if you will not stand with Israel, if you will not stand with the Jews, then I will not stand with you. And then I walked off the stage.”

In Defense of Christians has not yet responded to an inquiry from ABC News about Cruz’s appearance.

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