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Ted Cruz asks one blunt question about Pete Buttigieg after East Palestine disaster: 'Small-town mayor with no experience'

Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) questioned this week how many controversies Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg can weather before he is fired or forced to resign.

On the latest episode of his podcast "Verdict," Cruz addressed the East Palestine train derailment, blasting President Joe Biden and Buttigieg for their botched response to the disaster.

"Let me ask you a question: What in the hell does Pete Buttigieg have to do to get fired?" Cruz asked.

Cruz then wondered if in American history there has been a transportation secretary "who has screwed more things up." Cruz cited the supply chain crisis, during which Buttigieg took extended paternity leave, the major rail strike that was barely averted last year, and the NOTAM system failure that forced the Federal Aviation Administration to temporarily halt all flights last month.

"It's almost as if picking out a small-town mayor with no experience is not a good idea to run a major cabinet agency like the Department of Transportation," Cruz snarked.

Earlier in the podcast episode, Cruz took aim at Biden.

"Look, it is ridiculous that Joe Biden has not been to East Palestine yet. You literally have an American city with a major derailment that was on fire, where the water is being poisoned, where the air is being poisoned, where it's ongoing for multiple days, and this administration does not give a damn," Cruz said.

"Why? Because that part of the state voted 70% for Donald Trump. And it's clear their attitude: It's all politics all the time. It's all communications and PR all the time. And so going there is a bad message. And it really is striking," he continued. "So, Donald Trump publicly said he was gonna go to East Palestine. And promptly the Biden administration said, 'Ooh, we’ll go too now, yeah.'"

Anything else?

Buttigieg finally visited East Palestine on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the Norfolk Southern train first derailed.

During a press conference, Buttigieg appeared to express regret for not speaking out about the disaster "sooner." It took 10 days for Buttigieg to say anything about it.

"I felt strongly about this and could have expressed that sooner," Buttigieg said. "Again, I was taking pains to respect the role that I have and the role that I don't have, but that should not have stopped me from weighing in about how I felt about what was happening to this community."

His excuse for not speaking out sooner? According to Buttigieg, he was trying to strike a "balance" that respected alleged department norms.

"What I tried to do was balance two things — my desire to be involved and engaged in on the ground, which is how I am generally wired to act, and my desire to follow the norm of transportation secretaries allowing NTSB to really lead the initial stages of the public-facing work," he said.

"I'll do some thinking about whether I got that balance right," he added. "But I think the most important thing is, first of all, making sure that the residents here have what they need."

Joe’s Secret Trip - A Ukraine Deep Dive | Verdict Ep.160www.youtube.com

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