Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said in interviews this week that law enforcement is under assault, due in part to enmity toward police from the Obama administration.
Cruz's comments came after he was asked about the murder of Texas Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, who was shot 15 times at close range at a suburban Houston gas station Friday night.
"Cops across this country are feeling the assault. They're feeling the assault from the president, from the top on down as we see," Cruz said Monday in New Hampshire. "Whether it's in Ferguson or Baltimore, the response of senior officials of the President, of the Attorney General, is to vilify law enforcement. That is fundamentally wrong, and it is endangering the safety and security of us all."
Speaking on Texas's WBAP Tuesday, Cruz said Obama's "silence" on Goforth's murder is "completely wrong" and is a "manifestation of the divisiveness, the partisanship and of the hostility to law enforcement that has characterized the entire Obama administration."
Obama called Goforth's widow Monday and issued a statement on his death.
"On behalf of the American people, I offered Mrs. Goforth my condolences, and told her that Michelle and I would keep her and her family in our prayers. I also promised that I would continue to highlight the uncommon bravery that police officers show in our communities every single day," the statement said. "They put their lives on the line for our safety. Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable - an affront to civilized society."
Cruz repeated an assertion that President Obama has "inflamed racial tensions" in the wake of events including protests that turned violent in Baltimore and the killing of seven people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., in June.
Cruz's comments came as conservative media -- and politicians -- grow ever more critical of the Black Lives Matter movement that grew out of last year's protests in Ferguson, Missouri. In an echo of last year's police union backlash to New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, conservative figures are starting to blame police reform activists and President Obama for a "climate" of anti-cop anger.
On WBAP, Cruz was asked about Black Lives Matter and how marchers in St. Paul, Minn., were captured on video yelling "pigs in a blanket."
"Much of this is the fruit of the divisiveness and vilification of law enforcement that we've seen throughout the Obama administration," Cruz said. He noted that crime rates are spiking in major cities and said it is a direct effect of law enforcement pulling back after being criticized.
The killing of Deputy Goforth has ramped up the criticism of Black Lives Matter, especially on Fox News and talk radio -- but starting in Texas. In a televised press conference after the killing, Harris County Sheriff Don Hickman argued that police officers were being attacked because political rhetoric had been turned against them.
"This rhetoric has gotten out of control," said Hickman. "We've heard 'black lives matter,' 'all lives matter.' Well, cops' lives matter too. So why don't we just drop the qualifier, and say: Lives matter?"
That segment inaugurated new criticism of the Black Lives Matter activists and anyone who indulged them. In a Saturday night tweet, influential conservative radio host Laura Ingraham suggested that Black Lives Matter activists would be cheered by the Goforth killing.
On Fox News, guest after guest has condemned Democrats and President Obama for indulging criticism of police. The killing, after all, had come just a day after the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I said last December that war had been declared on the American police officer, led by some high-profile people, one of them coming out of the White House, one coming out of the United States Department of Justice," said Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who was narrowly re-elected in a Democratic city last year after the NRA encouraged conservative voters to turn out, in a Sunday interview. "It’s open season right now, there’s no doubt about it.”
On Monday night, Fox's Sean Hannity devoted much of his show to Black Lives Matter, playing guests the video of former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley being heckled at this summer's Netroots Nation conference for saying "all lives matter." Guest after guest, including Clarke, condemned it.
"The problem from our leader on down, Eric Holder, you've got Al Sharpton here, you have the guy with the movement out of Chicago, divide, divide, divide," said Bo Dietl, a former New York City Police Department detective who's become a Fox News fixture. "This group with the Black Lives Matters are a bunch of anarchists, the same faces that popped up in Ferguson. The same garbage cans. And now you've got another corpse. What about the young deputy who got shot in the head?"
Not much of the cable and talk radio chatter has delved into possible policy responses for the alleged war on cops. Those responses may be in the works regardless. On Tuesday, Philadelphia's Fraternal Order of Police got behind a proposal to conceal the identities of cops involved in shootings -- endorsed by a Republican legislator who won a major upset with FOP support. Branches of the FOP had been pivotal in squelching some of the post-Ferguson initiatives that got discussed in Washington, such as limits on the sale of military equipment to police departments.
The most prominent supporter of that doomed reform was Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who like Cruz is running for president. On the trail, he's continued telling audiences that laws against consensual crimes should be rolled back, but paired that with a new criticism of the Obama administration and Black Lives Matter. Last week, Fox News host Sean Hannity interviewed a black woman critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, then invited Paul on to explain why its leaders had gone too far.
"I think they should change their name, maybe -- if they were All Lives Matter, or Innocent Lives Matter," said Paul. "Commandeering the microphone, and bullying people, and pushing people out of the way, I think really isn't a way to get their message across... they need to go somewhere else, and they need to rent their own microphone."