A throwaway 2016 comment from Sen. Ted Cruz about what a Donald Trump presidency might look like — namely, which small European kingdom he might bomb — is going viral this week amid Trump’s unusual feud with Denmark.
The three-year-old clip of Cruz describing an imagined future in which President Trump, 73, has a tense relationship with Denmark is back in the spotlight because the real President Trump continues to escalate drama with the Scandinavian country over his interest in buying Greenland.
In the video, Cruz, 48, who was then running for president against Trump, said any commander-in-chief should be able to keep his emotions in check — in contrast with Trump’s “temper tantrums” on Twitter.
“We need someone with the judgment and temperament to keep this country safe. I don’t know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button,” Cruz said. “I mean, we’re liable to wake up one morning, and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark.”
Cruz was apparently using the longtime U.S. ally as an example of a target so bizarre it would shock voters. (A representative for Cruz did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment this week about the resurfaced comment.)
On Tuesday, Trump abruptly said he would postpone a planned visit to Denmark scheduled for September after Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said it would be “absurd” to entertain the idea of Denmark selling Greenland to the U.S.
He later called Frederiksen “nasty” — a favorite insult, often used against women — and said her words were an insult not just to him but to the entire country.
“I looked forward to going, but I thought that the prime minister’s statement that it was ‘absurd’ — that it was an ‘absurd’ idea — was nasty,” Trump told reporters Wednesday at the White House. “I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say, ‘No, we wouldn’t be interested.’ ”
He continued, “She’s talking to the United States of America. You don’t talk to the United States that way. At least not under me.”
Danish Parliament member Michael Aastrup Jensen told the Washington Post that lawmakers were “appalled” by Trump, whom they believe “lacks even basic diplomatic skills.”
“It’s an insult from a close friend and ally,” Jensen told the paper of the trip cancellation. “There was no word [ahead of time] about: ‘I want to buy Greenland and that’s why I’m coming.’ ”
Søren Espersen, foreign affairs spokesman for right-wing populist Danish People’s Party, also told Danish newspaper Politiken that Trump was acting like “a spoiled child.”
Frederiksen’s response to Trump’s decision to cancel the trip was more diplomatic, as she told reporters she was surprised but would not let it affect “the character of our good relations,” according to the Post.