Ted Cruz Says People Hug Him on Planes for Protesting Vaccine Mandates in Viral Video

A clip of Texas Senator Ted Cruz claiming that every week "almost without exception" people on flights hug and thank him for speaking out against vaccine mandates has gone viral.

The clip, posted on Twitter by The Reccount, was recorded while Cruz was speaking to the media following a meeting with leaders of the "People's Convoy" and fellow GOP Senator Ron Johnson.

The meeting between the two lawmakers and the group of truckers was arranged as hundreds of vehicles drive loops around the Capital Beltway outside Washington D.C. as part of their vague protest about COVID-19 restrictions and the extension of the COVID national emergency.

While discussing the meeting, which was promoted as being about the "harmful effects of President Biden's vaccine mandates," Cruz told a story about how people on planes thank him for attempting to stop the restrictions and rules targeting federal employees and large businesses.

"Every week, I fly back and forth to Houston. Almost without exception every time I'm on an airplane, either the captain or a flight attendant will come up to me, will hug me and say thank you for fighting for us," Cruz said.

"Because I'll tell you United Airlines—sadly Houston's a hub of them—has fired thousands of pilots and flight attendants. What difference does it make? We're in the District of Columbia, right now that are mandates affecting kids in D.C. This is wrong," Cruz added.

The clip has been viewed more than 1.9 million times since it was posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

A number of people disputed Cruz's claims about people hugging him on flights as the clip was being widely shared on social media.

Others also noted that Cruz widely exaggerated that United Airlines had fired "thousands" of pilots and flight attendants for refusing to abide by the vaccine mandate, with the actual figure being around 200.

While questioning United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in December 2021, Cruz stated that 2,000 United employees have been placed on unpaid leave—but not fired—as they sought exemptions from the vaccine mandates.

Others also used the clip to mock Cruz for flying to Cancun, Mexico, in February 2021 while Texas experienced a major winter freeze and mass power outages.

Emily Brandwin, a former CIA employee turned podcast host, tweeted: "If you believe that flight attendants & captains hug Ted Cruz all the time, I have two tickets to Cancun to sell you."

While sharing the clip, comedian and actor David Cross wrote: "ESPECIALLY on the flights to Cancun. Tears in their eyes. Sobbing with humility."

Journalist Lance Gould tweeted: "Thousands more people made the 'no one wants to hug Ted Cruz' joke than were actually fired by United."

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz said: "The key to a good lie is including as much truth as possible. There was no need to add the 'hug me' part. Now everyone knows the whole thing is made up. Have you ever even been to Houston?"

In response to the criticism, Cruz tweeted: "Leftists are surprised that people don't like being fired because of unconstitutional vax mandates…"

Cruz has been contacted for further comment.

ted cruz hug
Brian Brase, second left, a truck driver from Ohio, speaks during a meeting between leaders of the "People's Convoy," Senator Ted Cruz, center, and Senator Ron Johnson, center right, at the U.S. Capitol on March 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. A clip of Cruz claiming people hug him on flights for speaking out against vaccine mandates has gone viral. Getty Images