Speaking during the afternoon session at the Values Voters Summit, Texas Republican Senate nominee was introduced by fellow Texas, Rick Scarborough of Vision America.
After Scarborough hailed Cruz as "a man grounded by faith and principle" and "a true champion of freedom," Cruz returned the favor, hailing Scarborough as a "tremendous patriot and voice for Christian values."
As we noted in our pre-VVS write-up, Scarborough spends most of his time warning that America is facing "sexual anarchy led by sodomites" and declaring that AIDS is God's "judgment for an immoral act":
The power center that Dick Armey and FreedomWorks have been aggressively building in the U.S. Senate around reigning extremist Jim DeMint will almost certainly welcome Ted Cruz in January. The Republican convention gave most Americans their first look at Cruz, who has become a Tea Party folk hero after crushing the establishment candidate, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in a bitterly contested primary.
Ted Cruz loves to portray his victory as an upwelling from the grassroots, as he did during his Tuesday night speech from the platform. “I have the honor of standing before you this evening for one reason, because thousands upon thousands of grassroots activists stood united, not for a candidate, but for the sake of restoring liberty.”
It is certainly true that his impressive come-from-behind primary victory captured the fervor of anti-government Tea Party activists as well as conservative evangelicals that Cruz has been courting for years at religious right gatherings. But it wasn’t an act of spontaneous combustion. Pouring gasoline on the prairie fire were national right-wing super PACs and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks. Club for Growth Action dropped millions into the race on Cruz’s behalf; Jim DeMint’s Tea Party-backing Senate Conservatives Fund also kicked in with seven-figure spending. (DeMint has since cut his formal ties to the group so that it could create a super PAC.) A FreedomWorks spokesperson said after Cruz’s primary that wins by candidates like Cruz would “force Romney to the right.”
Cruz also benefitted from endorsements by an impressive roster of right-wing figures. During the primary he bragged that he was the only candidate this year supported by all four of his favorite senators: DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey. he Cruz campaign used video of a Palin campaign visit for its GOTV efforts. After his primary win an excited Breitbart blogger quoted Sarah Palin’s celebration on Facebook. She wrote that Cruz's victory was a win "both for Ted and for the grassroots Tea Party movement," and that the “message of this race couldn't be clearer for the political establishment: the Tea Party is alive and well and we will not settle for business as usual. Now, it's on to November!”
While the media accurately describes Cruz as a darling of the Tea Party and its corporate backers, he also had strong backing from religious-right figures. Cruz has campaigned for support at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit and the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference, where he said “we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.” James Dobson and David Barton are among the religious-right leaders who backed Cruz; Rick Santorum endorsed Cruz on Glenn Beck’s television show.
Cruz embodies Ralph Reed’s desire to merge the Tea Party and religious right. In his convention speech, Cruz talked about the Tea Party movement as a “Great Awakening” – a not-so-subtle shout-out to religious-right leaders who are calling for a spiritual great awakening that they believe will turn the nation back to God and its Christian roots. At Rick Santorum’s event on Wednesday afternoon, Cruz mocked media conversations about divisions between different “chunks” of Republicans, declaring the party united. “We’re all here because we believe in values and principles bigger than ourselves,” he said.
Right-wing activists have always had a difficult relationship with the truth, especially when it comes to Planned Parenthood. The lies they have told about the women’s health organization have been disgraceful and even comical. They continued today as Ted Cruz, the former Solicitor General of Texas and a candidate for US Senate, spoke to Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Today’s Issues about his state’s move to defund Planned Parenthood, which treats nearly half the patients in the state’s Women’s Health Program.
Under Medicaid’s rules, states cannot prohibit qualified health care providers from participating in the program, and Texas officials knew that defunding Planned Parenthood would lead the federal government to withdraw its funding for the program, representing 90 percent of the program’s total funding.
Unfortunately, 130,000 women will now lose access to health care because of Texas’ decision, and will lead to millions of dollars in new state spending due to the drastic cut to preventative health care.
But Texas went ahead and defunded Planned Parenthood, to the satisfaction of the Religious Right, and now are shocked—shocked!—that Medicaid is enforcing its longstanding rules.
Perkins claimed that “Planned Parenthood as a result of losing this funding was closing twelve of its abortion clinics.”
This is false.
In fact, none of the affected clinics provided abortion services. Planned Parenthood clinics that do offer abortions receive neither federal nor state funds and are therefore not impacted by the state’s decision.
Perkins and Cruz also attempted to hold Parent Parenthood and the Obama administration responsible for the deleterious impact on women’s health care by twisting and ignoring the facts throughout the interview. Perkins called it “blackmail” and blamed the administration for “cutting off funds to some of the most needy people in the state of Texas.” Cruz said that the Obama administration wants to send taxpayer dollars to “the abortion industry,” which he called “typical of the assault on our liberties that is proceeding relentlessly everyday under the Obama administration.”
They seem to find no fault at all in Texas’ unilateral and deliberate decision to break Medicaid’s rules and defund an organization that provided nearly half of the health services to low-income women under the state’s program.
Perkins: Let me get your first impressions, the Governor who you know well and the legislature whom you’ve worked with, they said, ‘We’re not going to be part of funding Planned Parenthood.’ They took the steps, that’s rightfully theirs, and so now I can’t explain it as anything other than blackmail from the Obama administration cutting off funds to some of the most needy people in the state of Texas.
Cruz: Tony you’re exactly right. The Obama administration has been the most radical administration this country has ever seen, he is the most radical president this country has ever seen. On this issue, his concern is quite simply political, it is ensuring that the money flow continues to Planned Parenthood and to the abortion industry, and he is willing to hold 130,000 low income Texas women hostage in order to make sure that Planned Parenthood makes their money. It’s cynical, it’s partisan and it’s wrong.
Perkins: I wonder if the timing here, it seems very suspect to me, but after Texas decided to stop this funding of Planned Parenthood, I think it was a week before last the story came out of Texas that Planned Parenthood as a result of losing this funding was closing about twelve of their abortion clinics in Texas. That was a story that was beginning to get traction around the country, giving other legislatures encouragement to take steps like Texas. Is this an effort to cut that off at the pass and try to say ‘hey, you better slow down or else we’re going to come after funding in other areas’?
Cruz: I think it was exactly that. The disturbing thing Tony is you and I and every American are involuntarily the largest funders of Planned Parenthood in this country because the federal government and the Obama administration is fighting tooth and nail to send millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood. You and I are both strongly pro-life, have been fighting to defend the right to life for many years, the idea that we are facing an administration that is so radical that they will do anything they can to defend and expand the taxpayer money to pay for Planned Parenthood and to fund the abortion industry, that is really dismaying and it is typical of the assault on our liberties that is proceeding relentlessly everyday under the Obama administration.
The main themes from this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference were not terribly surprising to anyone paying attention to the GOP presidential primary. According to CPAC speakers, President Obama is a “socialist, Marxist president” bent on destroying the country and the Constitution, and the nation will not survive if he is re-elected. “Compromise” is a four-letter word. Health care reform is tyranny. Contraception is tyranny. TSA searches are tyranny. You get the idea.
But there were also moments of insight into aspects of the conservative movement, often coming from smaller rooms and panels, like actor Stephen Baldwin’s declaration that “separation of church and state can kiss my ass” and the anti-multicultural, anti-diversity discussion which featured the founder of a white-nationalist website. Here are a few additions to the excellent RWW coverage of CPAC by Kyle and Brian.
Screw the Vote
As we have reported, Republicans are waging aggressive voter suppression campaigns across the country, including voter ID laws and voter registration restrictions supposedly needed to prevent “voting fraud.” At CPAC, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton hosted a press conference to talk about the group’s “Election Integrity Project,” which is suing states that Judicial Watch says have not done enough to clean up their voter registration lists. Panelists claimed that “rampant election fraud” took place in the last two election cycles – there’s no real evidence to back up that claim – and complained that the Obama administration’s Justice Department is selectively enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Fitton said that having the DOJ meet with representatives from Project Vote and ACORN is “like having the mafia running the FBI.” Another speaker represented True the Vote, an outgrowth of Houston Tea Party group King Street Patriots, which hosted a fundraising event last year with a speaker who believes:
Registering [poor people] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.
True the Vote is backing states whose voter ID laws have been challenged by the Justice Department and recruiting volunteers to challenge signatures gathered by those seeking to recall Wisconsin’s anti-labor governor Scott Walker.
The Federal Government’s War on Clean Underwear
It is an article of faith among many right-wing activists and candidates that health, safety, and environmental regulations are oten unconstitutional and are destroying the American economy. Americans for Tax Reform and its affiliate Cost of Government Center sponsored a panel dubbed “The Red Tape War: How the Regulatory Burden and Growing Nanny State Threaten Prosperity.” The group’s Mattie Duppler described regulation as an ongoing “war on consumers and taxpayers.” Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute said that energy efficiency regulations had caused a steep decline in the quality of top-loading washing machines, and talked about a campaign his group had run to have people send virtual underwear to the undersecretary of the Department of Energy. (Turns out that campaign was in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration)
Beyond Obstructionism to Nullification
One Newt Gingrich campaign theme has been pledging that as president he would ignore Supreme Court decisions he disagrees with and abolish the jobs of federal judges who don’t share his view of the Constitution. A couple of groups at CPAC – the Tenth Amendment Center and the Foundation for a Free Society – held a series of events to promote nullification, the idea that the states should similarly ignore federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional. In fact, they want to go far beyond ignoring such laws. Speakers introducing a documentary on nullification praised an Arizona bill that would not only declare the federal health care law null and void in the state, but would also make any agent of the government who tries to enforce the law guilty of a felony. The documentary featured state legislators as well as speakers from the Oath Keepers and the John Birch Society.
Here Sharia Comes!
Pamela Geller hosted a panel on Sharia, at which speakers complained about the room they were given and about their supposed mistreatment at the hands of CPAC – though other panels met in the same room and the “Islamic Law” panel was listed in the conference program. Geller and fellow panelist Robert Spencer attacked panelists from a previous, more thoughtful, panel on religious liberty which defended the religious rights of American Muslims. Also speaking was North Carolina congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, who said he was once charged with murder for killing terrorists in Iraq [charges were dropped] and who denounced “political correctness run amok.” Pantano praised discredited “historian” David Barton for telling the “truth” about America’s founding and called the misnamed “Ground Zero Mosque” a “desecration of an American holy site and an American national battlefield.”
Civics Education = David Barton, the Bible, and American Exceptionalism
In a panel on civics education, Matthew Spalding, VP for American Studies at Heritage Foundation praised the battle over textbook standards in Texas, in which David Barton and other Religious Right activists pushed to infuse far-right ideology into social science books.
Those are the battles that matter, especially big states because they control the textbooks. Texas had a great battle, and the media hated it, the left went crazy, but it’s an extremely reasonable curriculum improvement, and they focus on very good things. It’s a solid, good model….Civic education is not just in the classroom. You must understand the effect that public discussion about these questions, about history and about the meaning of our country affect politics, politics affects elections, elections affects state boards and things that make the curriculum.
Another panelist, Larry Schweikart, author of Patriot’s History of the United States, argued that civics education must be grounded in “American exceptionalism.”
All of the founders understood that the bible and biblical virtues were necessary to a good education, and a civic order. So once again it comes down to those four pillars of American exceptionism: common law, a predominantly Christian religion, property rights, and free markets.
Limit Government, Not Campaign Speeches
One of the final sessions before Sarah Palin’s closing remarks was intended to give a number of congressional candidates challenging Republican incumbents the chance to make 5-minute speeches. A couple candidates were shortchanged by the fact that Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, running to unseat Sen. Richard Lugar, took about twice as much as his allotted time and Ted Cruz, running against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP Senate primary, ran even longer.
Mourdock devoted his speech to the need for conservatives to “conquer” - conquer the media, educators, advocates of reproductive choice, big-spenders, anyone who thinks America is just an “average” nation, and all who “wish to crush our traditional American values,” presumably including 35-year Senate incumbent Lugar. Repeated Mourdock again and again, “Conquer we must!”
Cruz, who was also given time at last year’s Awakening Conference at Liberty University, argued that liberty is under assault like never before, that President Barack Obama is the “most radical president this country has ever seen,” and that the U.S. Senate is the key battleground. Cruz, who hopes to follow in the electoral footsteps of Florida’s Marco Rubio, is like Rubio the child of Cubans who came to the U.S. in the 1950s. Cruz brags that he is the only candidate this year supported by all four of his favorite senators: Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey, and called his primary “ground zero” in the battle between the Tea Party and the GOP’s “moderate establishment.”