Asked by reporters whether he wanted to apologize for saying this week that Donald Trump, his main 2016 rival, "embodies New York values," Cruz turned the tables, laying out a three-minute riff on things for which he would rather apologize.
"Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio have all demanded an apology, and I'm happy to apologize," he told reporters after an event here. "I apologize to the millions of New Yorkers who have been let down by the liberal politicians in that state."
Cruz then proceeded, in detail, to attack Cuomo, the governor of New York, for his disapproval of fracking, the controversial energy extraction process, while also aiming his sights on de Blasio, New York City's mayor, for his policies on taxes, charter schools and policing.
"I apologize to all the cops and the firefighters and 9/11 heroes who had no choice but to stand and turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio because Mayor de Blasio over and over again stands with the looters and the criminals rather than the brave men and women of blue," he said.
The prepared riff, coming after reporters surrounded him at a back entrance here, comes after Trump used the 9/11 attacks in New York as a response to Cruz's criticism of the real-estate mogul's values on the debate stage Thursday in Charleston.
"I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York," Trump said Thursday. "The people of New York fought and fought and fought. We saw more death and even the smell of death and it was with us for months."
"We rebuilt downtown Manhattan and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers," he continued. "And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made."
Cruz applauded Trump's mention of the city's response to 9/11 on Thursday, but was steadfast in his refusal to back down over his criticism of the city and state's values.
"People are waking up, and just like millions of New Yorkers, they are fed up with policies that don't fight for the working men and women of this country, but instead further the elite liberal views that have taken this country down a path that is not working," Cruz said.
The Texas senator repeated his "apology" later Friday at a campaign event in Tigerville, South Carolina, again mentioning the same issues as he listed in Columbia.
"Now, I hope that was the apology they were looking for," Cruz said to laughter and applause.