To most people, the idea of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) being a closet liberal is not only unbelievable, it’s laughable. Yet that’s the image that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is desperately attempting to push as he struggles to gain traction among the social conservatives who make up a significant chunk of Iowa caucus-goers.
Huckabee’s latest allegations that Cruz is attempting to deceive voters center around an interview that Cruz gave while attending a Manhattan fundraiser, where he was asked if overturning gay marriage is a top-three priority for him, to which he responds “No” just before the audio cuts off. That edited sound bite, which was part of a larger answer, is now being used in a radio ad by a pro-Huckabee group, Pursuing America’s Greatness, to try and convince listeners that Cruz is somehow insufficiently conservative and is attempting to hide it from Iowa voters.
“As Ted Cruz has traveled through Iowa, he says he shares our values,” the ad says. “Truth is: There are two Teds. Listen to Cruz raise money in New York City from liberals who don’t share our conservative Iowa values. … Remember, the next time Cruz tells you he shares your values, there are two Teds.”
CNN has pointed out that Cruz’s statement was selectively edited to omit that he said his main priority is to defend the Constitution, adding, “that cuts across the whole spectrum, whether it’s defending the First Amendment, defending religious liberty, stopping courts from making public policy issues that are left to the people.” In short, your typical conservative response.
But Huckabee is doubling down, insisting that the commercial is not deceptive and that Cruz is not as committed to fighting same-sex marriage.
“I think we are all looking for people who are consistent and consistent means you say the same thing regardless of where you are geographically,” Huckabee told Chris Wallace in an interview on FOX News Sunday. “You don’t take a different or slightly nuanced position because it would help you or hurt you with Manhattan fundraisers.”
But Huckabee isn’t the only voice sounding the “alarm” to try and scare social conservatives. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), also lagging in the polls, has questioned whether Cruz is sincerely committed to reversing marriage equality, saying Cruz has a “libertarian streak” and is too deferential to both the states and the courts. In being so deferential, Santorum claims, it opens up a Pandora’s box of ills.
“Take the issue of marriage,” Santorum told FOX News in an interview. “Sen. Cruz, Rand Paul, and frankly others have said, ‘We’re going to let the states decide these issues. We’re not going to do anything at the federal level. That means if the states want to adopt same-sex marriage, fine, polygamy, I guess that’s fine, or really any type of marriage.
“I don’t take that opinion,” Santorum added, “and most conservatives say there is a law, a higher law, that people are accountable to, a natural law, the law of what is right and things that are moral and just.”