Get ready to hear much of the same for the next six months.
Hannah LevintovaMay 3, 2016 9:53 PM
After Ted Cruz bowed out of the presidential race on Tuesday night following a devastating loss in the Indiana primary, a victorious Donald Trump—now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee—spoke from Trump Tower.
A subdued Trump opened the speech by thanking his family. He later praised Cruz as "one hell of a competitor," and a "tough, smart guy" with "an amazing future." He also thanked the Republican National Committee, saying he had just gotten off the phone with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "He had 17 egos," Trump said of Priebus having to deal with the initial Republican field, "and now I guess he's down to one." Earlier in the night, the RNC chairman tweeted that Trump was now the presumptive GOP nominee and called on Republicans to rally behind him to defeat Hillary Clinton.
Cruz confirmed as much in a speech on Tuesday night, saying that while he is suspending his campaign, "I am not suspending our fight for liberty. I am not suspending our fight to defend the Constitution. To defend the Judeo-Christian values that built America. Our movement will continue." Here's the moment in his speech when he announced it was over:
Going into Tuesday, Cruz had no chance of securing a majority of delegates and a win on the first ballot at the Republican convention in Cleveland in July. After Trump's decisive win in Indiana, even that goal appeared unrealistic. Trump is now considered to be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus tweeted as much:
They include the star of Duck Dynasty and advocates for killing abortion doctors and gay people.
Hannah LevintovaMay 3, 2016 6:00 AM
Tuesday's Indiana primary is arguably the final frontier for Ted Cruz to keep alive any prospect of winning the Republican presidential nomination. The poll numbers aren't looking good for him in the Hoosier State, but he's holding out hope that Indiana will join several other Midwestern states in rewarding him for his socially conservative record. But in his quest to become the favorite of social conservatives, Cruz has aligned himself with a number of far-right extremists who could cause him trouble in the increasingly unlikely event that he finds himself in a general election battle in November. From the star of Duck Dynasty to activists who advocate executing abortion doctors and gay people, here's a partial list:
The Benham family: In February, Ted Cruz appointed David and Jason Benham, twin brothers and real estate entrepreneurs based in North Carolina, to his campaign's Religious Liberty Advisory Council. As Mother Jones reported in April, the brothers have been at the forefront of every battle to oppose gay rights in North Carolina in recent years. They've opposed gay pride parades and organized anti-abortion protests, and at one point David Benham equated the battle against marriage equality with fighting Nazis. The brothers were most recently instrumental in stoking opposition to a Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance that eventually led to HB 2, the state's transgender "bathroom bill" that has sparked a national uproar.
Their father, Flip Benham, is a well-known anti-gay and anti-abortion street preacher in Charlotte. In November, Cruz touted Benham's endorsement in a press release. In 1994, Benham became the director of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, and he later renamed it Operation Save America. He still leads the group. Benham is best known for having helped convert Norma McCorvey—the "Jane Roe" of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion—to fundamentalist Christianity and to renouncing her past support of abortion rights. In 1995, Benham opened the national headquarters of Operation Rescue next door to the Dallas abortion clinic where McCorvey was working at the time as a marketing director. The two struck up a friendship, and when McCorvey eventually converted, Benham performed her baptism.
Troy Newman: After Flip Benham moved and renamed the national Operation Rescue operation, Newman took over its western branch, now based in Wichita, Kansas. In January, Cruz announced his campaign would form a Pro-Lifers for Cruz coalition co-chaired by 10 anti-abortion activists. Newman is one of them. The campaign's press release announcing the coalition describes Newman as the author of Their Blood Cries Out, a 2000 book in which he wrote that "the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes."
Last week, after Cruz appeared to be making a play for more women voters by announcing former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina as his running mate, executives from several pro-choice groups wrote an open letter to the Cruz campaign encouraging it to fire Newman from Pro-Lifers for Cruz due to his history. "Troy Newman's history of violent rhetoric and harassment toward women's health providers is truly beyond the pale," they wrote.
Kevin Swanson: Cruz was a featured speaker at the National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa last November. He was introduced by conference organizer Kevin Swanson, a pastor who is known for his belief that gay people should be killed. Right before bringing Cruz to join him onstage, Swanson gave an impassioned speech in which he clarified that gay people should be executed by the government only after they've had sufficient time to repent.
"Yes, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals," Swanson said, pacing the stage, his voice rising. "Yes, [in] Romans chapter 1, verse 32, the Apostle Pauldoes say that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words, not mine! And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!" Here's Swanson's speech in full:
Cruz's appearance at the event, along with those of former GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Gov. Bobby Jindal, caused an uproar, but the Cruz campaign made no moves to distance itself from Swanson's ideology. Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told the Rachel Maddow Show that Swanson's call for the execution of gay people was "not explicit." In December, the campaign changed its tune and told USA Today that it was a mistake for Cruz to attend Swanson's event.
Tony Perkins: Perkins is the head of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as an anti-LGBT hate group, and the chair of Pro-Lifers for Cruz. Early in his career, while working as a reserve police officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1992, Perkins was suspended from duty after failing to report to his supervisors that an anti-abortion group was planning a violent protest at a local abortion clinic. Perkins had learned this information because he worked part-time for a local conservative TV station, and his camera crew was often outside the clinic, filming confrontations between pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters.
While managing a US Senate campaign in 1996, Perkins paid more than $80,000 to purchase the mailing list of Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. He later gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, another white supremacist group, in front of a Confederate flag. Under his leadership, the Family Research Council has touted a number of false claims about LGBT people, most famously the idea that gay men are more prone to sexually abuse children. (Many medical groups, including the American Psychological Association, have debunked this claim.)
James Dobson: In February, Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, the largest organization of the religious right in the United States, endorsed Cruz for president in a TV ad and in robocalls to voters.
Focus on the Family has several million subscribers to its monthly magazines and more than 220 million listeners of its various radio broadcasts, which usually feature Dobson. The group has become known for its deep-pocketed opposition to marriage equality measures and candidates across the country who back gay marriage. It also supports the practice of reparative therapy, which aims to "cure" homosexuality, and has continued to do so even after Exodus International, a reparative therapy group it once partnered with, disbanded and disavowed the practice.
Dobson has also made some extreme statements over the years. He blamed the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on the legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage, warned of an impending civil war over gay marriage, and said he opposes the Harry Potter books because they promote a "New Age ideology" to kids.
Phil Robertson: In January, the Cruz campaign put out a video of the candidate duck hunting with Phil Robertson, the star of the A&E show Duck Dynasty, who has come under fire for his anti-gay comments. Robertson has compared homosexuality to bestiality and said AIDS is God's "penalty" for immorality and gay sex.
In this video from the Cruz campaign, Robertson endorses Cruz, saying, "Ted is my man." Robertson and Cruz are wearing face paint and hunting gear, shooting rifles into the air.
"I am thrilled to have Phil's support for our campaign," Cruz said at the time. In February, Cruz suggested that Robertson would make a good ambassador to the United Nations.
Fiorina left the race in February, on the heels of poor numbers at the polls—and many stories about her shoddy business record and her propensity for stretching the truth. Now that she's back in the race, let's take a stroll down Fiorina memory lane:
"Fiorina Super-PAC Makes Its Own Abortion Video": After Fiorina described a grisly abortion video during a GOP debate in September, multiple media outlets pointed out that the video didn't exist. In response, her super-PAC created a version of the previously nonexistent video.
"Carly Fiorina's Fact-Defying Stump Speech": Fiorina dropped several shocking statistics during a campaign speech in Iowa. Among other dubious claims, she said that in the previous year 307,000 veterans had died before they received health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs and that the tax code is 73,000 pages. We fact-checked the numbers.
"Carly Fiorina Isn't Just Attacking Planned Parenthood at the Debates": While her presidential campaign was in full swing, Fiorina recorded a robocall that was blasted throughout California encouraging voters to support a ballot measure that would require parental notification before an underage girl can terminate a pregnancy. The measure has been a main goal of California's anti-abortion advocates for the past decade, and fighting it on ballot after ballot has drained Planned Parenthood's money and time for years.
"If we take care of the morality, God will take care of the economy."
Hannah LevintovaApr. 25, 2016 6:25 PM
Update (5/19/2016): The Oklahoma Legislature passed SB 1522 on Thursday 33-12, with no floor debate. The bill now goes to the desk of state Gov. Mary Fallin. It is unclear if she will sign the bill, though in the past she has supported anti-abortion legislation.
In the most draconian statewide anti-abortion measure yet, the Oklahoma state House of Representatives approved a state Senate bill last week that could make nearly all abortions in the state illegal and jail doctors who provide the procedure.
The measure, SB 1522, would make it a felony to perform an abortion, with no exceptions for a woman's health. The minimum punishment for those who do so would be one year in prison. If it is discovered that they have provided an abortion, doctors would be stripped of their state medical licenses. The only exception to these rules would be abortions to save the life of the mother, and the bill makes clear that the threat of suicide by a woman seeking an abortion doesn't fulfill the "life" requirement. This version of the bill must now get final Senate approval before heading to Gov. Mary Fallin. It's unclear if she will sign it, though historically she has supported anti-abortion legislation.*
The bill also propagates a medically inaccurate definition of abortion. For example, according to SB 1522 the routine removal of fetal matter after a miscarriage is considered abortion. So is the surgical removal of an ectopic pregnancy, in which the implantation of the fertilized egg is outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube, which means such pregnancies are never viable. Leaving the embryo in place could lead to the rupturing of the tube and serious injury to the mother.
"This is a ban on abortion, plain and simple," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an emailed statement. "Punishing doctors for performing a legal, medical procedure is an assault on women. As a health care provider, we have seen the very real and very disastrous impact these bills have on women's lives. Women are forced to drive hundreds of miles, and across state lines. Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of this extreme agenda, and Oklahomans will not stand for this."
During several hours of floor debate on the bill last week, other lawmakers asked bill co-sponsor Rep. David Brumbaugh to explain how the state would handle a costly legal battle over this bill, since its near total ban on abortion goes against Roe v. Wade—the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion—and would very likely lead to court challenges. Brumbaugh responded, "Do we make laws because they're moral and right, or do we make them based on what an unelected judicial occupant might question or want to overturn?"
He also assured his fellow lawmakers that God would take care of everything. "Everybody talks about this $1.3 billion deficit," Brumbaugh said. "If we take care of the morality, God will take care of the economy."
Correction: An earlier version of this article did not mention the bill's return to the Senate.