Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has insisted that the vile rhetoric of anti-abortion extremists played no role in the mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. In fact, speaking at an event for his presidential campaign on Sunday in Iowa, Cruz bizarrely characterized the alleged gunman as a “transgendered leftist activist.”
But it’s important to know that Cruz has closely associated with — and has touted endorsements from — anti-abortion activists who are so extreme that they have advocated for and justified the killing of abortion providers.
As the Huffington Post reports, just last month Cruz touted the endorsement of Troy Newman, who heads the radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. Right Wing Watch notes that Newman, in his book “Their Blood Cries Out,” called for the execution of abortion providers:
“In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, 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 in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.”
The same Huffington Post story also points out that Cheryl Sullenger, currently Operation Rescue’s vice president, was convicted with her husband in 1988 for their part in a failed plot to bomb an abortion clinic in California. They were among eight members of a fundamentalist Christian church who were sentenced for participating in the plot.
Cruz also has a close connection to another anti-abortion extremist who has been even more explicit in justifying violence against abortion clinics (as well as gay people). Last month Cruz joined fellow Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal (the latter now out of the race) at an event sponsored by radical Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson. As we reported at the time, Swanson ranted wildly against gay people at the event and declared that homosexuality “is worthy of death.” But Swanson has also hailed the murder in 2009 of George Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas. Tiller was gunned down at his church by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder. Right Wing Watch reports that Swanson, talking on his radio program shortly after that murder, justified the shooting:
“It was anarchy and this vigilantism is not a good thing at all. But … so was the fact that you had a guy who was in his abortuary for the last 30 to 40 years killing 60,000 babies. That’s anarchy too! If anybody’s keeping count …Let’s see, Tiller killed 60,000 babies, so that’s 60,000 dead babies and one dead abortionist. So, let’s just say, the abortionists are still ahead on this one.”
Swanson went on:
“It is interesting that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Wasn’t that what Jesus said? And this is really, pretty much, what happens. People tend to get their upcommance, and that’s precisely what happened to Tiller the Killer.”
Another Cruz supporter has appeared also to justify the shootings last week at the Colorado clinic. Texas state Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano, who has endorsed Cruz for president, last weekend retweeted a shocking post from an anti-abortion activist regarding the Colorado shooting:
“You want ‘safe places’? Sure thing, start by making the womb one.”
Cruz clearly swims in the deep waters of anti-abortion extremism. No one should expect to hear him denounce any of the vicious rhetoric from extremists like Newman, Swanson and Shaheen. He’s got a campaign to win, after all — regardless of the death toll.