Ted Cruz battles Trump over Evangelical votes

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cruz sees a road to the GOP nomination.

As the 25 or so immigrants marched around the front of Bryant- Denny Stadium Tuesday protesting the appearance inside of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz they chanted various slogans. Former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, fired by the city after publishing a religious book in which he called homosexuality a “perversion,” has been busy on the conservative talk circuit for the past few months. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks Republican leaders are bluffing when they say they want to defund Planned Parenthood, so he is enlisting Christian pastors across the nation to help mobilize voters to force his colleagues’ hands and threaten a government shutdown. If I want the admiration and blessings of the most flamboyant, judgmental Christians in America, I should marry three times, do a queasy-making amount of sexual boasting, verbally degrade women, talk trash about pretty much everyone else while I’m at it, encourage gamblers to hemorrhage their savings in casinos bearing my name and crow incessantly about how much money I’ve amassed?

He spoke at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta, received an award at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s conference in Washington and on Friday appeared in Des Moines at a religious liberty rally for presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. After all, evangelical Christians, who have made up about a quarter of the national electorate since 2004, have long been seen as a crucial block of supporters for Republican candidates. Cruz implored more than a thousand pastors and religious leaders on Tuesday to “preach from the pulpit” against Planned Parenthood and rally public support for an amendment defunding the family provider in the must-pass federal budget bill in November.

In a conference call that more than 100,000 pastors received invitations to participate in, Cruz said members of both parties in Congress want an “empty show vote” on funding Planned Parenthood, one that “has no teeth and no consequence” and is not tied to must-pass legislation. He’s more beloved than Mike Huckabee, a former evangelical pastor, or Ted Cruz, an evangelical pastor’s son, or Scott Walker, who said during the recent Republican debate: “It’s only by the blood of Jesus Christ that I’ve been redeemed.” No matter.

In the crowded field for the GOP nomination, Cruz is closer to the middle of the pack in most polling, and he has very little backing from the party establishment. You’re still Rafael,” one of the men going inside could be heard asking the group he was walking in with “who is Rafael?” Apparently the man had never heard Cruz’s full name: Rafael Edward Cruz. In years past, GOP strategists such as Ralph Reed and Karl Rove famously orchestrated successful campaigns that emphasized the culture-war issues of same-sex marriage and abortion, crafting political messages to appeal to Christian conservatives. Cruz is set to give the keynote speech at the Tuscaloosa County Republican Party’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner. (Howard Koplowitz) “Welcome to my office,” Ted Cruz says to a reporter as he motions to a folding chair seated opposite him in the bowels of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

There is a way to ensure that the vote will matter, he said: tying it to an appropriations bill funding the federal government. “We can expect President Obama and many of the congressional Democrats to cry loudly that if Congress uses its authority, Congress will be quote ‘shutting down the government.’ That, of course, is nonsense,” Cruz said. It’s all part of an effort to build a grass-roots movement that his campaign can tap into and for him to be able to distinguish himself from the rest of the field to win what he calls the “evangelical bracket.” Cruz has some competition in that lane, notably from the last two Iowa winners — former Arkansas Gov. Upon arrival at the venue, guests received Ted Cruz Pocket Constitutions, Cruz stickers, mini-American flags emblazoned with “Courageous Conservatives for Cruz,” bracelets reading “Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman,” and, for younger attendees, Ted Cruz coloring books.

And in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage a constitutional right, as well as conservative furor over Planned Parenthood, Senator Cruz has begun an all-out effort to reprise the culture-wars strategy by winning the hearts of Evangelicals and religious conservatives, many of whom are still reeling from America’s swift and momentous cultural shift. Indeed, RedState’s Erick Erickson, a prominent figure in Republican media, said just last week that Cruz “has a very plausible path to the nomination.” Part of Cruz’s strategy is clearly based on cozying up to Donald Trump, and hoping to pick up many of his supporters if/when the GOP frontrunner falters before voters start showing up. Cards and pens were placed on the seat of every chair to sign up attendees to commit to caucus for Cruz, a vital step in campaign organizing here in Iowa. (A City of Atlanta investigation found that Cochran did not receive the proper permission to publish the book and gave it to firefighters who did not ask for it, though his religious views did not affect disciplinary actions.) Cochran does not appear to have offered Cruz an official endorsement, but he’s clearly become a hot commodity among the religious conservative voters the Texas senator is seeking.

But in a political season defined by Donald Trump’s assault on illegal immigration and free-for-all celebrity style, is the religious right as cohesive and powerful as it once seemed to be? Usually the disconnect involves stern moralizing, especially on matters sexual, by showily devout public figures who are then exposed as adulterers or (gasp!) closet homosexuals. To get from here to there, Cruz is in part banking on Alabama, a state he has visited twice in the last month that is part of the crucial “SEC Primary” comprised of key southern states. Cruz was the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s Lincoln-Reagan dinner at the upscale “Zone” at the stadium where several hundred mostly Republicans gathered.

The pastor outreach effort he participated in Tuesday was sponsored by the American Renewal Project. “It is important that [Congress] hear also that a show vote will not suffice. Asked about Clinton’s attention to the state, Abrams pointed to Clinton’s Atlanta visit planned for next month: “We’ve been in very close contact with the campaign, understanding the proposals that are out there, have been engaged in pushing the information out. … We’ve been very active in the quiet phase, recognizing that while Georgia is having the SEC Primary next year, the most important thing right now is to make sure everyone understands” the policies. But if the real estate mogul is riding a wave of general anti-politician animus, Cruz could be the candidate best poised to take advantage should the Trump phenomenon start to fizzle, political experts say. “It is a really interesting and potentially a smart political strategy [for Cruz], in part, because this coalition remains viable,” says Jeanne Zaino, professor of political science at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. “But it is also important to note how much the GOP has changed since this coalition was formed,” she continues. “Following Obama’s election in 2008, many people said the Republican Party as we knew it had disintegrated – though the 2010 and 2014 midterms suggest this is a bit overblown. The senator said his conservative bone fides will play well in Alabama, which is among the reddest states in the country. “I think primary voters in Alabama, in the South and across the country are looking for a conservative they can trust,” Cruz said during an interview Tuesday night with AL.com. “They’re tired of campaign conservatives who talk a good game on the stump but don’t walk the walk.

Planned Parenthood receives about $500 million in annual public funding, which it uses to provide family planning services and Medicaid reimbursements to low-income patients. John Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” has been making brilliant satirical fun of this by promoting his new tax-exempt church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption. Indeed, top officials on the Texan’s team have already begun “quietly reaching out to Rand Paul’s early supporters and endorsers,” making their case in one-on-one meetings.

The plan, estimated to cost $350 billion over 10 years, comes as college tuition has continued to increase and student loan debt has hit more than $1.2 trillion nationally. And the reason our campaign is enjoying such tremendous support in Alabama is that I have the strongest conservative record of any candidate running.” On what has become a major campaign issue among the 2016 Republican field – illegal immigration – Cruz has been quick to tout his connection to U.S. Abortions at Planned Parenthood are paid for separately — the Hyde Amendment has prevented taxpayer dollars from being used toward abortions for more than four decades.

Cruz took the stage sounding like a preacher at a mega-church. “The Lord tells us, where two or more are gathered in his name he will be with us,” he said to applause. The proposal would provide grants for states and colleges pledging to create no-loan tuition plans for students, including a new fund for small private colleges, including historically black institutions serving many low-income students. The presidential candidate drew national attention after championing controversial efforts to block implementation of President Obama’s health care law in 2013. He said the videos “show the face of evil,” because they feature doctors discussing reimbursement costs for fetal tissue donations at lunch over salad and wine. That religious freedom is under attack and that business owners opposed to same-sex marriage are under fire, because they don’t want to provide services — flowers, catering or event space — to such ceremonies.

Ted Cruz is kicking his assault on Planned Parenthood into high gear this week with the launch of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for the women’s health organization. The Anti-Defamation League has joined in the debate over whether OK Cafe should house a carving of the 1956 Georgia flag – complete with the Rebel emblem – when it reopens. “It has become too common to use comparisons to the Holocaust and Nazi imagery to attack people with opposing views, whether the issue is global warming, immigration or health care.

Multiple states conducted investigations into Planned Parenthood’s activities in light of those videos, and none of those investigations have found any illegal activities. Roughly one in four voters have identified as evangelical in exit polls during the last 11 years; the number is even higher in Iowa and the Southern states that Cruz has said are critical to his run.

He highlights the recent series of undercover videos from an anti-abortion-rights group accusing the organization of selling fetal tissue from abortions for profit. “I don’t have to remind anyone here of the atrocities being committed every day by Planned Parenthood,” Cruz said in Iowa, adding, “These videos that have been made public make vivid what we already knew.” “How did America become a country that harvests organs from unborn children? Their deaths should not be used for political points or sloganeering.” At Monday’s press conference announcing Mercedes-Benz bought naming rights to the new taxpayer-financed Falcons stadium, Gov. Wrath is covered by his anti-immigrant, anti-“losers” rants, and if we interpret gluttony to include big buildings and not just Big Macs, he’s a glutton through and through.

Good ideas work and I welcome many as many candidates as possible and I embrace sound policy to finally, finally, finally secure the border.” Cruz said his campaign has enjoyed support from a cross-section of the Republican electorate – “conservatives, evangelicals, libertarians, young, people, Hispanics, women, Reagan Democrats,” according to the senator – and said his appeal in the Yellowhammer State is due to willingness to buck the Republican establishment. “If you think everything in Washington is going great, that we need to keep going in the same direction, just fiddle around the edges, then I’m not your guy,” he said. “However, if you think Washington is fundamentally broken, that we have career politicians in both parties who get in bed with lobbyists and special interests and grow and grow and grow government and that we need to bring power out of Washington and back to the people, then that is what this campaign is about.” During his speech, Cruz offered plenty of red meat. Cruz told pastors their congregations could make an “enormous difference” by calling their members of Congress and holding them to their campaign promises. “We have a moment where we can stand together and act, and all we need is for our elected leaders to actually do what they said they would do,” Cruz said. “They campaigned promising to defend the right to life. Cruz, looking to gain traction in an early voting state with a heavy concentration of evangelical Christians, held a highly organized and produced “Rally for Religious Liberty” Friday night.

Among the applause lines that hit with the crowd were the senator’s promise that a Cruz administration would abolish the IRS, rein in the EPA, undo the nuclear deal with Iran, end the “persecution” of religious liberty, and prosecute Planned Parenthood officials if they were found to violate laws stemming from the controversy over harvesting fetal tissue. The rally featured live music, interviews with people who said their religious liberty was violated and sermon-like speeches from Cruz, who tried to cement himself as the candidate of choice for evangelical voters in a crowded Republican primary field. “There is a war on faith in America today,” Cruz said, later noting that 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home during the 2012 election. “I’m here to tell you, we will stay home no longer,” he said as the audience, which filled a ballroom and the campaign estimated to number 2,500 people, cheered. So far, however, they all have floundered during the summer of Trump, which has won over a wide range of Republican voters, including women, men, moderates, conservatives, and young and old alike. Cruz even claims to have proof of the “war on faith”: Dick and Betty Odgaard, who agreed to pay a $5,000 fine late last year after refusing to serve gay customers. Planned Parenthood calls the videos — and Cruz’s push — a smear campaign using false and outrageous claims. “This is just his way to try and find and carve a spot into the Republican landscape and extreme right that tends to control the Republican primary process,” said Dawn Leguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

But all was forgiven: His host, Jerry Falwell, told audience members that Trump could be credited for “single-handedly” forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate. The Odgaard family, Cruz insists, are “victims” of “government persecution” – these innocent owners of a church, the senator insists, were punished by the state because of their faith. Trump continues to top the polls even among Evangelicals nationwide by wide margins – including 32 percent in the early primary state of New Hampshire, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday, and 44 percent of tea party voters. As Slate explained, the facts are a little different: “[T]hough Cruz repeatedly suggests the couple owns a church, in reality they own a former church that they converted into an art gallery, flower shop, and bistro that they then ran as a wedding venue.

Though Republican majorities are certain to vote down the agreement next month, Democrats are working to hold enough votes together to sustain a presidential veto. “As elected representatives, we are sometimes faced with a vote of conscience – a personal moral decision that rises above politics and partisanship. In a few short weeks, Members will need to report the results from their executive sessions with themselves and their constituents on the question of Iran.” Lewis enclosed an op-ed in support of the deal by Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Republican Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. On March 1, more than half a dozen Southern states will likely all vote in the so-called SEC primary — named after the region’s powerhouse college football conference. “He’s speaking to issues and almost only those issues in a primary that’s front-loaded with Southern states and states that are heavily laden with evangelicals,” said Janine Parry, a pollster at the University of Arkansas. “I think that’s the risk, and that’s what you see in Cruz,” Parry said. “He’s running a primary election strategy, and you know most strategists would say you kind of have to in a field like this. But also in general, you don’t get to go to the general election if you can’t win the primary.” Cruz argues that he can win the nomination — and the presidency — by motivating real conservatives and not worrying at all about winning moderates.

Georgia Democrats wish Louis the best of luck in building the next generation of Democratic leaders.” On his ideal opponent in an Mixed Martial Arts fight against Obama [Collins replied] “Ha ha. From Trump’s Twitter account gushes an endless stream of un-Christian rudeness, and he was at it again on Monday night, retweeting someone else’s denigration of Kelly as a “bimbo.” Shouldn’t he be turning the other cheek? It ranks third in total campaign funds raised, including affiliated super political action committees, trailing only the funds raised for former Florida Gov. Courting the evangelical vote, Cruz used his own Twitter account last week to say that his “thoughts and prayers are with President Jimmy Carter,” whose struggle with cancer was riveting the nation.

Jeb Bush (R) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D). “From Cruz’s perspective then, if he is able to join the tea party and Evangelicals together in a party this splintered, it may help him get enough support to make a viable run,” says Professor Zaino. “This also makes sense because it fits within Cruz’s history – he won the Senate race in Texas based on tea party support – and he continues to have that.

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