Social issues were a central focus for Ted Cruz during a number of media appearances earlier this week.
First was an appearance on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” where he sparred with host Bill O’Reilly on whether his position on abortion would prove to be a liability in the general election:
O’REILLY: Now, the New York Times, front-page article on you today saying that you are the most conservative political candidate since Barry Goldwater. Is that fair?
CRUZ: Well, you know, it’s funny. I think the Times meant it to be a hit piece. I actually retweeted it and sent it around to people.
O’REILLY: You think that’s okay.
CRUZ: Well, we’re so tired of being lied to.
O’REILLY: You didn’t hear my Talking Points memo because you just got here. The senators would enough to come in. That’s exactly what I said.
O’REILLY: We’re just being lied to all the time. But the Times’ point was on abortion and some other issues you are so far out of the mainstream according to the polls that it might be hard for you to get the popular support and put you in the White House.
CRUZ: Well, I think it’s fair to say, the Times is not exactly a barometer for the mainstream.
O’REILLY: No, but they’re going on the polling —
CRUZ: I have no idea what the mainstream is. What I will say that the Times says right is that I’m a consistent conservative. But I’ve been a conservative my whole life. Now, the values I’m fighting for are common sense values. I think this election comes down to three issues: jobs, freedom, and security. And not a one of those is the narrow 51 percent wedge issue. Those are all unifying, 50, 70, 80 percent issue that bring us together.
O’REILLY: Within the tent of those issues, you’re going to have to deal with specifics. For example, they say, the Times says that you’re against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Is that true?
CRUZ: It is true that I’m pro-life but, you know, Bill —
O’REILLY: No, no, no. Rape and incest?
CRUZ: Yes. It is true that I’m pro-life. But let me just give the flip side of that. Hillary Clinton’s position on abortion.
O’REILLY: Anything goes.
CRUZ: Anything goes up to the moment of delivery. Partial birth.
O’REILLY: Let’s stay on you.
CRUZ: But I want to underscore something for a second —
CRUZ: Because the Times says, she is mainstream, do you know nine percent of Americans agree with Hillary Clinton on abortion? Ninety one percent disagree with her. She is radical and extreme.
O’REILLY: You are correct when you said the New York Times is not a mainstream publication.
O’REILLY: However, you will going to have some trouble will all due respect on the rape and incest abortion thing with women voters. And all the polls say it. Now, is there a strategy or are you just going to say, I’m staying with this.
CRUZ: You know, listen, I recognize that the media loves to focus on issues where they think they can hit Republicans over and over again. I’m talking about jobs. That is what I talked about. Every day over and over again. That’s my focus.
Cruz was also interviewed by Conservative Review and asked specifically about recent challenges to religious liberty and fellow candidate John Kasich’s blithe dismissal of the issue:
HOST: Some of the conservatives living in the states that you’re coming up against are especially vulnerable to attacks on their religious liberty. You discussed religious liberty at length a moment ago in your address to the crowd here in Towson, and you mentioned that two debates ago Donald Trump said he would compromise on religious liberty. In contrast, John Kasich said just yesterday that advocates of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, state-level RFRAs, and [inaubile] that we just saw in Georgia, all these various different things, should just get over it. What’s your take on that statement?
CRUZ: Well, I don’t think the American people are willing to get over our basic liberties. We fought a bloody revolution to protect our religious liberty. We were literally founded – this nation was founded by men and women fleeing religious oppression and seeking a land where every one of us could seek out and worship God Almighty with all of our hearts, minds, and souls free of the government getting in the way. And I suppose King George could have given the same message, ‘Get over it, while I strip your freedom,’ but thankfully the American people answered that demand with musket shot.
It wasn’t too long ago – a couple decades ago – that religious liberty was a bipartisan priority. Republicans and Democrats, we might disagree on marginal tax rates; we could argue back and forth on that. But on religious liberty, we all came together. We all supported religious liberty. You know, back in the 1990s, Congress passed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That passed Congress virtually unanimously. Almost every Democrat voted for it. It was signed into law by a Democrat, Bill Clinton. Today, when states pass laws virtually identical to that federal legislation, the modern Democratic Party is so radical, so extreme, it’s decided there’s no room for religious liberty in the modern Democratic Party. That is radical. That is not American.
Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.