SPRINGFIELD, Illinois -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) watched silently as an animal rights protester stood on a chair and interrupted his stump speech at his second of five stops in Illinois on Monday.
"Thank you for expressing your free speech," Cruz said with a smirk as the crowd began to chant.
"OK, I understand you're very, very concerned about the animals, that's wonderful," Cruz continued. "I also happen to care about human beings."
As Secret Service agents escorted the woman out of the venue, Cruz commented on how peaceful the interruption was, drawing a clear contrast to the rallies of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, which have had a number of violent incidents in the last week.
Trump's rally in Chicago was canceled on Friday amid fighting between supporters and protesters. Illinois holds its primary contest on Tuesday.
"Isn't it amazing how we can have that conversation without anyone getting violent?" Cruz said as the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.
The Texas senator faced another interruption at a rally in Peoria on Monday, when a protester stood up and told Cruz to "go back to Canada."
As voters in the crowd booed, the GOP hopeful responded, "One difference between this and a Donald Trump rally: I'm not asking anyone to punch you in the face."
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio dealt with a heckler Sunday in his home state of Florida, where voters also head to the polls on Tuesday. A man stood up at a rally and accused the senator of attempting to steal his girlfriend.
"Marco Rubio is trying to steal my girlfriend," the man said, as Rubio casually laughed. "They met in New Hampshire and she doesn't look at me in the same way anymore."
Rubio came to the man's defense, taking a swipe at Trump.
"That's all right, hey, we don't beat up our hecklers in our events," Rubio said.