Senator Ted Cruz tore into the White House for failing to send a high-ranking cabinet member to Sunday's rally in Paris, a move the administration conceded was a mistake earlier in the afternoon.
"Where was the president?" Cruz said in a speech Monday at the Heritage Foundation. "Where was the vice president? Where was the secretary of state? Where was the attorney general who'd been there moments before but chose to get on a plane and fly back home?"
The rally in France was organized as a show of solidarity after a series of terrorist attacks that began Wednesday with the murder of 12 people at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Dozens of world leaders attended, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Paris to discuss the attacks but did not attend the rally itself, leaving Ambassador Jane Hartley to represent the United States.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in his daily briefing Monday that it was "fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile."
"I will say in the immediate aftermath of September 11, nations across the world came and stood with America," Cruz said in his speech. "The nation of France stood with America. It was sad and unfortunate that we have not seen that same leadership from this administration now."
Cruz also declared that "you cannot win a war against radical Islamic terrorism with an administration that is unwilling to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism."
Holder said on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday that the U.S. was at war with terrorists who “use a corrupted version of Islam to justify their actions," which apparently fell short of Cruz's expectations.