Election 2016

Donald Trump: 'There's Something We Don't Know About' Obama…

We knew Donald Trump was about to go off on one of his trademark rants at a rally in South Carolina last night when he said of Muslims: “I know so many, they’re so great, they’re such good people.”

Much as he tends to compliment immigrants before attacking them as likely rapists and murderers, Trump then said that the government must be concerned about Muslim refugees because “there’s something going on.”

He also said that there is something about President Obama that makes him ignore this supposed threat from Muslims: “We can’t close our eyes. I don’t know what’s wrong with Obama, he wants to close his eyes and pretend it’s not happening. Why is he so emphatic on not solving the problem? There’s something we don’t know about. There’s something we don’t know about.”

He went on to urge attendees to report their neighbors if they’re suspicious of them, adding, “most likely you’ll be wrong and that’s okay.”

The birther presidential candidate previously said that “some people think” Obama wants to bring in Syrian refugees because he has “evil intentions.”

Trump Campaign Manager: Police Witnessed New Jersey 9/11 Celebrations

After insisting that a media conspiracy is suppressing the footage of Muslim-Americans celebrating 9/11 in New Jersey that Donald Trump falsely claims he saw on TV, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski now claims that police officers witnessed the celebrations.

“We know it’s true,” he said in an interview yesterday with Virginia-based radio host John Fredericks. He cited a Washington Post article which he said “took into account police officers from Jersey City who saw these taking place.”

Incidentally, Lewandowski’s claim contradicts the findings of New Jersey’s top law enforcement officer at the time, who told the New York Times yesterday that an investigation found no evidence to substantiate initial rumors about such celebrations. Similarly, television networks did not broadcast any such footage, seeing that the celebrations never occurred.

But John J. Farmer Jr., then the New Jersey attorney general and the state’s chief law enforcement officer, said on Tuesday that he ordered an investigation that very day and found the reports to be bogus, more wild stories born in the stricken hours after the attacks.

Open jubilation at the mass death, Mr. Farmer said, might quickly be followed by rioting and more deaths. “If true, we would have had to mobilize the State Police and National Guard and locked the place down,” he said.

“We followed up on that report instantly because of its implications,” he added. “The word came back quickly from Jersey City, later from Paterson. False report. Never happened.”

Maddow Calls Out Ted Cruz For Embracing Radical Anti-Choice Activist

Over the past few weeks, we have been covering the parade of increasingly extreme activists whom Sen. Ted Cruz is embracing as he seeks to shore up the hard-right vote in the Republican presidential primary.

There was the conference Cruz spoke at immediately after the summit’s organizer declared that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. There was the list of endorsements from faith leaders that his campaign released that included a pastor who has blamed Ebola on gay rights and another whose long history of right-wing activism includes protesting at gay couple’s weddings and a criminal conviction for stalking an abortion doctor. And then there was the joint press release that Cruz issued with Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, announcing the endorsement of the activist who has long inhabited the radical fringes of the anti-choice movement.

Last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow looked into Newman’s history, citing our reporting on Newman and Operation Rescue, including his backing of capital punishment for abortion providers and tying abortion rights to natural disasters such as the current drought in California.

“This is one of those stories that I recognize the beltway media doesn’t sort of have its feelers out for,” Maddow said. “As Ted Cruz ascends in the polls and as his lift in the polls is driven basically entirely by very, very conservative Religious Right voters, this is part of understanding why and this is one of the things that he should explain to people who may have some justifiable concerns about who he’s building his campaign on.”

For more on Newman and his colleague Cheryl Sullenger, who as Maddow noted was convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic in the 1980s, you can read our recent in-depth report on Operation Rescue.

Ted Cruz Touts Endorsement Of Extreme Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice Activist Flip Benham

A list of endorsements from faith leaders published by Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign last week includes not only anti-gay pastor Ron Baity but also Philip “Flip” Benham of Operation Save America, a radical activist who campaigns against abortion rights and LGBT equality.

“We’re fighting the Devil and his lies in the world and the flesh, and moving it to a thing called the homosexual agenda — and it’s the Devil’s agenda,” Benham said last year, likening abortion and Islam to “the Devil’s fist” and the “homosexual agenda” to Satan’s “pink-colored glove.”

Benham founded Operation Save America out of what was left of the original iteration of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, expanding its focus to include opposition to gay rights, Islam, and other issues. (The leader of the new Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, has also endorsed Cruz.)

Benham’s recent activism at Operation Save America has included organizing a campaign to harass the judge overseeing the Kim Davis case, blaming the Sandy Hook massacre on the separation of church and state, blaming the Democratic Party for the Aurora mass shooting, declaring war on Islam and heckling congregants at a Unitarian Universalist congregation, which Operation Save America called “a synagogue of Satan,” during a moment of silence for deceased parishioners.

Benham has also crashed gay couples’ weddings to protest their nuptials.

In 2011, Benham was found guilty of stalking an abortion provider “after passing out hundreds of ‘wanted’ posters with the physician’s name and photo on it.” Earlier this year, he charged that the Baltimore riots following the death of Freddie Gray amounted to God’s punishment for legal abortion .

Cruz has already surrounded himself with hate group officials, fanatical anti-abortion activists and radical pastors. Benham will fit right in.

Trump Campaign: Media Conspiracy Suppressing 9/11 Celebration Footage

In an interview today with Breitbart News, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski defended his candidate’s bogus claim that he saw on TV “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans in New Jersey holding celebrations on 9/11 to applaud the attacks.

No footage or reports of such an event exist, and initial press reports about small “rooftop celebrations” were later declared to be “unfounded.”

However, Lewandowski said that reports of the (nonexistent) celebration do in fact exist and that the Trump campaign provided that material to media outlets which, according to Lewandowski, have refused to air it as part of a massive anti-Trump conspiracy.

For the mainstream media to go out and say that this didn’t happen is just factually inaccurate. We know it happened. They should go back and check the FBI records. Mr. Trump has provided them local media outlets that have covered this coverage that they don’t want to go and talk about. He’s provided many opportunities for them to go and see it but they have their own agenda, the media has their own agenda. They want to try and discredit as many people as possible so they can have an establishment candidate come in and think that everything is going to be the same because they are all controlled by the special interests and they are all controlled by the media and it is what the American people are just so tired of.

Ted Cruz Welcomes Endorsement From Pastor Who Linked Ebola To Gay Rights

Ted Cruz has recently boasted of the endorsements he has received from an extremist anti-abortion activist and an anti-gay hate group leader, even courting the support of a radical pastor who backs the death penalty for unrepentant gays.

In a recent press release, Cruz announced the endorsements of a group of faith leaders, including Ron Baity, a pastor and head of the group Reclaim America.

Baity made his name with the campaign to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in North Carolina, and Cruz recently joined Baity at a rally against marriage equality.

Cruz’s drive to cater to Baity is especially troubling considering that the pastor has likened gay people to “maggots” and “murderers,” endorsed laws prosecuting “sodomites” and urged gay people to “quit being homos.”

Gay people, according to Baity, want to “recruit young people to their perverted, warped agenda” and are bringing about the destruction of America. He has described homosexuality as rancid fruit “filled with wormholes and rotten cores” and a “darkened, twisted, immense depository of depravity.”

Baity has also alleged that God sent Ebola to America as punishment for the gay “lifestyle”: “You think Ebola is bad now, just wait. If it’s not that, it’s going to be something else.”

Again, this is a pastor whom Cruz wants on his “faith leaders” team.

Mike Huckabee Makes Up False Claim As Proof 'There Is A War On The Christian Faith In This Country'

During Friday night's "Presidential Family Forum" in Iowa, Mike Huckabee attempted to gin up outrage among the conservative Christian audience by falsely claiming that the federal government is working to deport a family from Germany who have sought asylum in America in order to homeschool their children.

Homeschooling is illegal in Germany and in 2010, the Romeike family sought political asylum in America, arguing that they would face fines, imprisonment and loss of custody of their children if they were deported back to Germany. The case worked its way through the legal system for years until the Supreme Court finally refused to grant their appeal, only for the Department of Homeland Security to announce in 2014 that the Romeikes would be granted "indefinite deferred action status" and be allowed to remain in America.

But that is not the story Huckabee told during a discussion of education at the forum on Friday night. Instead, the former Arkansas governor declared that "every Christian believer in this country [should be] absolutely livid" over the fact that "this week, the Justice Department of the United States started deportation process against the Romeike family to send them back to Germany, which will take their kids from them."

"The very week the president wants to bring Syrian refugees to America and import them," Huckabee stated, "he wants to deport a Christian family."

Such an action, Huckabee insisted, is proof that "there is a war on the Christian faith in this country that is being carried out by this administration."

Given that the case of the Romeike family has been an important issue for the Religious Right for years, one would think that if the government had reneged on its pledge to allow them to remain in the country and begun the process of deporting them, that might have made some news. 

But we have been utterly unable to find a single news article reporting this or a single piece of evidence to back up Huckabee's claim. We even called the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been representing the Romeike family from the beginning, to ask if their organization had any knowledge of this and were informed that HSLDA is unaware of any steps taken by the DOJ to deport its clients.  

Rick Santorum: Obama Won't Bomb ISIS! (Except Those 6,000 Airstrikes)

Rick Santorum declared at Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” in Iowa that President Obama refuses to bomb ISIS, despite the fact that the U.S. has launched over 6,000 airstrikes against ISIS militants. He then went on to say that airstrikes are actually a bad idea that actually benefit ISIS, which he said has the sympathies of the majority of Muslims.

After recounting how he told President Bush that “we have to stop calling this a war on terror” and instead declare “war against radical Islam,” Santorum said that “the theology of a majority of people in the Middle East are exactly the theology of ISIS,” even though “they may not be violent.”

“We have a president who won’t even identify ISIS as Islamic nor will he identify it as a state,” Santorum said. “He says we can’t bomb them because we can’t recognize them as a state because it will give them too much prestige; we can’t say they’re Islamic because it will give them too much credibility. This is delusional and it’s costing lives.”

The U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS has killed over 20,000 ISIS fighters and helped Kurdish forces retake cities such as Sinjar, Kobani and Tel Abyad.

Mike Huckabee: Obama Must Resign For Protecting Islam Over America

At one point during Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” in Iowa, the discussion descended into a debate over Ted Cruz’s call for Secretary of State John Kerry to resign because he, along with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, “served as apologists for radical Islamic terrorists.”

Naturally, Mike Huckabee tried to one-up Cruz’s stance, and instead said that President Obama should step down for supposedly being more concerned with attacking Republicans than defeating ISIS.

“I’d like for Barack Obama to resign if he’s not going to protect America and instead protect the image of Islam,” he said.

Ben Carson: Monitor 'Anti-American' Groups, Churches And Media Outlets

Ben Carson called for a return to McCarthyism this weekend, telling a group of reporters at a campaign stop in South Carolina that he would support the government “monitoring a mosque or any church or any organization or any school or any press corps where there was a lot of radicalization and things that were anti-American.” The Associated Press noted that Carson “did not expound on just how an administration would determine what constitutes ‘radicalization’ or ‘anti-American.’”

However, Carson has left many clues as to what he considers “anti-American” … and it mostly means the political left.

Back in May, Carson said a rally attendee was “absolutely right” when he claimed that the Obama administration holds a “strong anti-American spirit that is undermining everything that we stand for.” He went on to say that the “progressive agenda” was pushing an anti-American plot, citing author W. Cleon Skousen’s book “The Naked Communist.”

Carson frequently mentions Skousen’s conspiracy-ridden book, which paints America as a country under attack from a grand but secretive leftist agenda, on the campaign trial.

For example, he told a National Organization for Marriage gala that the gay marriage movement and other progressive goals emerged from a Marxist, New World Order effort to “bring America down.”

He similarly told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network that America’s true “enemies” are those pushing pro-choice and pro-gay-marriage views by trying “to divide everybody up.”

Of course, the irony seems to be lost on Carson that accusing his political opponents of being “anti-American” may itself come across to most people as divisive.

Mike Huckabee: 'There Will Be No Abortion' When I'm President

At Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” hosted by the Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, Mike Huckabee doubled down on his pledge to “ignore the court” and “defy the court” as president by recriminalizing abortion and gay marriage through executive fiats.

“I’m convinced the next president should ignore the unconstitutional and illegal rulings of the courts, including that of same-sex marriage, because it is not the law of the land,” Huckabee said.

He also reiterated his plan to outlaw abortion with a sweeping presidential decree: “We [should] simply say, there will be no abortion because that unborn child is a person.”

Only then, Huckabee argued, would God be able to bless America.

Carly Fiorina: 'People Of Faith Make Better Leaders'

On Friday night, seven Republican presidential hopefuls gathered around a fake Thanksgiving table in Des Moines, Iowa, for a "Presidential Family Forum" hosted by The Family Leader, an influential Religious Right organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats.

Moderator Frank Luntz promised the event would be an "adult conversation" about the issues important to the conservative Christian activists in the audience and the candidates bent over backwards to appeal to these voters, with Carly Fiorina declaring at one point that all the people on stage, as well as all the people in the audience, "are people of faith who love our God" and that is important because "people of faith make better leaders."

"I do think it's worth saying," Fiorina declared, "that people of faith make better leaders because faith gives us humility, faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us. And so I think it's important that we elect a leader of faith and that we elect a leader, as well, who knows that more prayer, not less, is necessary in public life and in all our lives."

Luntz then followed up on Fiorina's statement by declaring that "I can back that up statistically," asserting that "every single positive factor that you can describe is directly correlated to someone's relationship with faith, with God, and all the pathologies that you would criticize are directly related to a rejection of God."

GOP Candidates Seek Endorsement Of Iowa Anti-Gay Leader Bob Vander Plaats

Seven Republican presidential candidates will be travelling to Iowa today to take part in a “presidential family forum” hosted by The Family Leader, a social conservative group led by activist Bob Vander Plaats, who is seen as a kingmaker in the Iowa caucus.

Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum will all be speaking at the forum, at which the candidates are arranged family-style around a Thanksgiving table. (At the 2011 forum, Michele Bachmann memorably took it upon herself to serve water to all of the male candidates.)

The endorsement of Vander Plaats, whose backing helped catapult Huckabee and Santorum to Iowa caucus victories in 2008 and 2012, is one of the most coveted in the state. While most observers think that Cruz will nab Vander Plaats’ endorsement, the activist is keeping his options open. Vander Plaats told a reporter that although Donald Trump was unable to make tonight’s forum, he told him, “If you can guarantee me your endorsement, I will turn the plane around and get there.”

As Vander Plaats’ previous endorsements of Huckabee and Santorum show, he has a powerful machine ready to push an ideologically pure social conservative. Back in 2010, Vander Plaats also led a successful effort to remove three Iowa Supreme Court judges who participated in the court’s landmark unanimous marriage equality decision.

But to get that endorsement, candidates must cater to an activist far the right of mainstream voters. Not only does Vander Plaats want to remove from office or defund the courts of judges who find in favor of marriage equality, he believes that anything, like gay marriage, that “goes against the law of nature” is by definition unconstitutional . He argues that the government is an institution of God and therefor its purpose is “to promote righteousness” and to apply “God’s principles and precepts.” He once warned that God might withdraw his blessing from America because of a Wiccan prayer at the Iowa state capitol.

Vander Plaats has suggested that marriage equality could lead to legal protections for pedophilia and “ a parent marrying their child” and compared the “public health risk” of homosexuality to second-hand smoke. He has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “decisive leadership” in preventing “homosexual propaganda” in his country.

Taking its anti-gay sentiment to a new level, The Family Leader was a sponsor of a conference earlier this month — at which Cruz, Huckabee and then-candidate Bobby Jindal spoke — whose organizer, Kevin Swanson, called for the death penalty for gay people and warned that God would judge America for liking the Harry Potter series too much. (The group later clarified that it does not support violence against gay people but declined to denounce Swanson.)

Speaking at an event last year, Vander Plaats played a video showing a gay pride event alongside the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings as illustrations of the “darkness” that has fallen over America:

Vander Plaats had also dabbled in birther conspiracy theories, implying in 2011 that the president’s birth certificate was missing and praising Trump for his “bold” crusade to uncover the truth about the president’s past.

Cruz Touts Endorsement Of Radical Anti-Choice Activist Troy Newman

In a press release yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz announced that he had received the endorsement of Troy Newman , the radical anti-choice activist who runs Operation Rescue, saying he was “grateful” for the endorsement of Newman, who “has served as a voice for the unborn for over 25 years.”

“We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice,” Cruz added.

It is remarkable that Cruz is touting the endorsement of one of the most radical anti-choice activists in the country. In a movement that has increasingly embraced softer rhetoric about “women’s health” in order to pass incremental measures restricting abortion rights, Newman is a holdover from the no-holds-barred activism of the so-called “rescue” movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

Much as Cruz recently tried to court an extremist pastor who believes the government should execute gay people, he is now hailing an activist who authored a book criticizing the U.S. government for failing to treat abortion providers as murderers who should be put to death.

Newman argued in his 2003 book, “Their Blood Cries Out,” that the biblical duty of government “rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.” (He later explained that while “there’s several prescriptions in the Old Testament that God calls out that the person who commits these crimes should be executed,” he was going for a message of “mercy” in that “we need to repent first for our personal involvement and corporate involvement of abortion and work to restore those that have been involved in it and work to end this terrible tragedy that’s in our nation.”)

Newman also wrote in his book that women who have abortions should be considered “a murderer” just like “any other mother, killing any other family member.” Along with Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger, who was once convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic, Newman later claimed that a man convicted of murdering an abortion provider should have been allowed to argue that the homicide was justified.

Newman has claimed that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and AIDS were both warnings from God about legal abortion in America and attributed a drought in California to the state’s liberal abortion laws, insisting that “weather patterns” and economic instability are connected to legal abortion.

In the press release, the Cruz campaign touts Newman’s role as a driving force behind the Center for Medical Progress, which released a series of videos this year that were used to falsely claim that Planned Parenthood had broken federal laws around fetal tissue research. That project has catapulted Newman to a new stature in the anti-choice movement that now, apparently, includes joint press releases with top-tier presidential candidates.

Ben Carson: Media 'Misrepresented' Me By Quoting Me Verbatim

After several conservative activists denounced him for calling the Religious Right’s interference in the Terri Schiavo end-of-life case “much ado about nothing,” Ben Carson is doing what he does best: blaming the media.

Carson told a Tampa Bay Times reporter earlier this week that the Schiavo controversy, in which then-Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida got involved in a family dispute over the fate of a woman who had been in a vegetative state for 15 years, "was much ado about nothing" since "those things are taken care of every single day” in the medical field.

After getting blowback from some of the Religious Right activists who helped make Schiavo’s case into a national news story, Carson told LifeSiteNews yesterday that the media took his remarks out of context:

"I regret that my recent comments about Terri Schiavo have been taken out of context and misinterpreted," he continued.

"When I used the term 'much ado about nothing,' my point was that the media tried to create the impression that the pro-life community was nutty and going way overboard with the support of the patient," Dr. Carson told LifeSiteNews.

Carson's contention that he was really talking about the media's supposedly negative depiction of "the pro-life community" during the Schiavo case prompted the Tampa Bay Times reporter to post a full transcript of the brief exchange.

As any observer could tell, Carson was clearly not talking about the media's portrayal of "nutty" activists, but was in fact focusing on how a family's end-of-life decision became politicized:

Q: Dr. Carson, a few years ago when Gov. Bush was in charge of the state, he and the Florida legislature moved to overturn the court decision on Terri Schiavo to force the feeding tube to be reinserted. What was your view of that as a doctor at the time?

CARSON: Well I said at the time, 'We face those kinds of issues all the time and while I don't believe in euthanasia, you have to recognize that people that are in that condition do have a series of medical problems that occur that will take them out,' " And Your job is to keep them comfortable throughout that process and not to treat everything that comes up.

Q: Did you think it was appropriate for congress and the legislature to --

CARSON : -- I don't think it needed to get to that level. I think it was much ado about nothing. Those things are taken care of every single day just the way I described.

LifeSiteNews asked several of the activists who had criticized Carson's statements about his "clarification," and they were not impressed:

[Operation Rescue's Troy] Newman told LifeSiteNews that Dr. Carson's explanation seemed "dubious" considering the context of the story.

Cheryl Sullenger, a senior policy advisor at Operation Rescue, agreed that the doctor seemed dodgy.

"I appreciate that Dr. Carson felt the need to explain his comments concerning the Terri Schiavo situation, but I am not completely convinced that his explanation isn't just an attempt at damage control," she told LifeSiteNews. "I am concerned that he made his original comments while appearing not to completely understanding the fact that Terri was brain damaged, but not terminally ill."

"I remain skeptical about whether Dr. Carson is ready to serve as president, where public policy set by him could mean life or death for innocent people like Terri," Sullenger told LifeSiteNews. "Therefore, I will not be supporting his candidacy."

Trump: 'A Lot Of People Think' Obama Has 'Evil Intentions' With Muslim Refugees

Yesterday, Donald Trump spoke with right-wing radio host Michael Savage about his plan to take on ISIS, bragging that he came up with the U.S. plan to attack the group's oil infrastructure, which he said only started "about two days ago." (The U.S. has actually launched hundreds of attacks against the so-called Islamic State's oil infrastructure since last August.)

"Does anybody say, 'Thank you Donald?" he asked. "Nobody. I've been the only one."

Savage went on to ask Trump what he believes is President Obama's "real reason for flooding America with Muslims from Syria," which Trump said was "hard to imagine."

"Obviously some people think it's evil intentions, I think it's incompetence, regardless, a lot of people think it's evil intentions," Trump continued, before claiming that it is "very easy" for Muslims to enter the U.S. but "virtually impossible" for Christians.

Later in the program, Trump praised Russia's intervention in Syria, claiming that "Russia's been amazing in what they're doing because they're fighting to win."

"I think it's wonderful that they bomb ISIS and that it's great," Trump said, before hailing Putin for "really bombing the hell out of them."

Of course, over 90 percent of Russian airstrikes in Syria have targeted anti-regime rebels rather than ISIS, and have, at times, even provided air cover for ISIS forces during their battles with rebel groups. ​

Ted Cruz Will Bring Unity To America By Uniting Republicans Against The Media

Speaking to a press gaggle earlier this month at a conference organized by radical pastor Kevin Swanson, Sen. Ted Cruz said that he is qualified to unite a divided nation because he united his fellow Republican presidential candidates against the moderators of a recent CNBC debate.

“You have been a champion of conservative values and issues,” an unidentified reporter asked Cruz in an exchange broadcast by Indiana Christian radio host Joyce Oglesby, who was at the conference. “What are you going to do to bring unity to a divided nation?”

“It’s a great question, and let’s talk about unity for a second,” Cruz responded. “How do you bring unity? You know, we saw a moment of unity last week in the debate when I called out the debate moderators. One of the great results that happened was you saw all the Republicans on stage come together and be united, standing behind that charge of the ridiculous bias, the dripping condescension, the assumption in each of those media questions that anyone who actually believes in the conservative principles that America was built on is somehow a blithering idiot. That unity was encouraging.”

Although Cruz did show great success in uniting his fellow candidates against debate moderators asking them hard questions, his attendance at a conference that ended with a call to execute unrepentant gay people may not have been the best way to show that he can bring Americans together.

GOP Candidates Really Don't Want To Talk About 'Kill The Gays' Conference

A couple of weeks ago, we reported extensively on a conference in Iowa organized by extremist pastor Kevin Swanson, at which three Republican presidential candidates joined Swanson on stage shortly before he went off on a series of rants about how the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death, Harry Potter is bringing God’s judgment on America, and how if your gay child gets married you should show up to the wedding covered in cow manure.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran a segment on the conference, but other than that, as a number of commentators have noted, the media has been strangely silent on the Republican candidates’ participation in this event.

Today, Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu reports that she reached out to the campaigns of the three candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal (who has since dropped out of the presidential race), and found them rather reluctant to talk about it.

A spokesperson for Huckabee, who at the event deflected a question about Swanson’s extremism, told Basu after viewing video of some of Swanson’s remarks that Huckabee “appreciated the opportunity” to speak at the conference. The Cruz and Jindal campaigns didn’t bother to reply at all. (Before the conference, Cruz had been asked about his participation by CNN’s Jake Tapper, but brushed off the question.)

Calls and emails seeking a reaction to Swanson's remarks by spokespeople for Cruz and Jindal (who suspended his campaign Tuesday) went unanswered. Huckabee’s spokeswoman Alice Stewart asked for documentation and was sent a video link. She responded the next day saying, "Gov. Huckabee appreciated the opportunity to speak with an audience in Iowa about the importance of standing up for our religious liberties."

Basu also reached out to The Family Leader, an influential Iowa conservative group that sponsored Swanson’s conference and will be hosting candidates for a “presidential family forum” later this week. A Family Leader spokesman at least went as far to say that the group doesn’t condone executing gay people, but didn’t comment on the wisdom of sponsoring Swanson’s conference:

Asked if Vander Plaats or the Family Leader condemn Swanson’s remarks, Drew Zahn, its director of communications wrote in an email: “The Family Leader absolutely condemns any call for violence against homosexuals. Our involvement with the conference was intended to advocate and preserve our First Amendment religious liberties and the rights of conscience for all Americans. The Family Leader consistently advocated the Bible's principle of treating others as you would be treated, a principle come to life in the friendship between TFL President Bob Vander Plaats and One Iowa's Donna Red Wing.”

But Zahn wouldn’t say whether the organization would express those views to Swanson, or would have withdrawn sponsorship from the program if they had known what he would say.

We really wonder how long Cruz and Huckabee will be able to continue to plead ignorance about Swanson’s extremism after being asked about it repeatedly.

Extremist Congressman: God Raising Up Ted Cruz To Save America's Soul

Ted Cruz has picked up the endorsement of Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who is not only an influential political force in the first-in-the-nation caucus state but also a prominent face of the anti-gay and anti-immigration movements.

“For almost a year now, my regular prayer has been that God would raise up a leader whom he will use to restore the soul of America,” King said in a video message, asking Iowans to “do your duty for God and country, come to caucus, and support Ted Cruz for president of the United States.”

The congressman made waves nationally when he suggested that young immigrants are mostly drug smugglers who’ve “got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” but he’s been making similar comments for years, once likening immigrants to livestock while calling for an electrified border fence and depicting immigration as a “slow-motion Holocaust” and “a slow-rolling, slow-motion terrorist attack on the United States.” He has a long record of portraying immigrants as a violent threat that will destroy the country and civilization itself.

King has also been a leader among opponents of LGBT equality, warning that same-sex marriage will usher in socialism, leave children raised in warehouses instead of families and “throw this country into an endless trauma.” The congressman has also baselessly asserted that gay rights laws have legalized man-lawnmower marriage and pedophilia.

While Cruz may be happy that King thinks that God is backing his candidacy, he shouldn’t be complacent: King previously said that a Mitt Romney win in 2012 would be a victory for God.

Phyllis Schlafly: 'I Don’t Think Obama Ever' Loved America, Unlike Donald Trump

As we noted earlier this week, Phyllis Schlafly seems to have thrown her support behind Donald Trump, saying that Trump “acts like he loves America.”

In an interview with WorldNetDaily today, Schlafly continued on the same theme, comparing Trump to President Reagan, who “was a real American and would stand up for America.” In contrast, she said, “I don’t think Obama ever did” love America.

On Trump, she recalled a similarly turbulent time for the GOP establishment when Ronald Reagan got the nomination.

“We survived that because Reagan was a real American and would stand up for America,” she said.

She said she believes that is Trump’s desire also.

Schlafly also noted the “kingmakers” in the party had difficulty then and likely will again when “they realize they can’t name the nominee and that Trump might be the nominee.”

But a key component of the presidency is love for America, she said.

“I don’t think Obama ever did. I think he wanted America to be like every other country. We don’t want to be like every other country. We’re better. We’re exceptional.”

Schlafly also told WND that President Obama’s immigration policy is sending America on the path of Germany, which she said “isn’t going to be Germany any more. It’s going to be Muslim.”

Schlafly said the resettlement of refugees and newcomers to the nation is getting out of control.

“Look what happened to Germany,” she said. “Germany isn’t going to be Germany any more. It’s going to be Muslim. We shouldn’t allow that to happen.”

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