While the outside world knows a Ted Cruz who called the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision to legalize same-sex marriage the “very definition of tyranny,” more moderate donors whom the Republican senator from Texas is hoping to rope in to finance his presidential campaign see a softer side of the candidate behind doors. Cruz, in recordings taken during private fundraisers and obtained by Politico, told his hosts at a Manhattan fundraiser that fighting same-sex marriage would not be a top priority for his would-be presidential administration.
“No,” Cruz said, according to the recording. “I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority. And that cuts across the whole spectrum — whether it’s defending [the] First Amendment, defending religious liberty.”
He then continued to frame the issue in federalist terms by saying same-sex marriage should be left up to individual states so there are a range of views and approaches to fit the country's diversity. “People of New York may well resolve the marriage question differently than the people of Florida or Texas or Ohio. ... That's why we have 50 states — to allow a diversity of views. And so that is a core commitment,” he said.
The reply given to the donor appears to be somewhat contradictory to the hard line that Cruz took a week after the Supreme Court decision was handed down. He told NPR in late June that he would put the issue “front and center” in his campaign and said he felt the Court had overstepped its boundaries.
The Cruz campaign wasn’t exactly jazzed with the Politico report, quickly taking to Twitter to label it a hit job. Cruz’s two statements don’t technically contradict — which Politico noted — but they do raise questions about his commitment to an issue that conjures a strong emotional response from Evangelical voters, which Cruz is banking on to win in primary states throughout the country and thus, the election.
Politico is pathetic. This isn't even a borderline good hit job. https://t.co/4LDYM6nFMW
— Brian Phillips (@RealBPhil) December 23, 2015
“Politico is pathetic,” Brian Philips, a Cruz spokesman, wrote in a tweet. “This isn’t even a borderline good hit job.”
Cruz is currently polling in second place in averages of national polls put together by Real Clear Politics. He takes in 18.1 percent of the vote, behind businessman Donald Trump, who has 35.1 percent.