The website Politico has published a sharp attack on presidential candidate Ted Cruz, arguing a secret recording shows the candidate to be inconsistent in his views on gay marriage, when in fact, the recording shows Cruz saying the same things he has for years.
“What Ted Cruz said behind closed doors,” reads Politico’s headline. “A secret tape from a New York fundraiser could mean trouble for a candidate selling authenticity.”
Politico’s claim is that a video of a closed-doors fundraiser shows Cruz taking a very different position on gay marriage than the one he has taken publicly.
“In June, Ted Cruz promised on NPR that opposition to gay marriage would be ‘front and center’ in his 2016 campaign. In July, he said the Supreme Court’s decision allowing same-sex marriage was the ‘very definition of tyranny’ and urged states to ignore the ruling,” Politico’s Mike Allen writes. “But in December, behind closed doors at a big-dollar Manhattan fundraiser, the quickly ascending presidential candidate assured a Republican gay-rights supporter that a Cruz administration would not make fighting same-sex marriage a top priority.”
The details reported by Politico, though, substantially undermine the publication’s summary. The full conversation, between Cruz and a Republican attending a New York fundraiser, simply shows Cruz subordinating his gay marriage position to a broader position on the Constitution:
Male questioner: “Can I ask you a question? So, I’m a big supporter. And the only issue I really disagree with you about is gay marriage. And I’m curious: Given all the problems that the country’s facing — like ISIS, the growth of government — how big a priority is fighting gay marriage going to be to a Cruz administration?”
Cruz: “My view on gay marriage is that I’m a constitutionalist and marriage is a question for the states. And so I think if someone wants to change the marriage laws of their state, the way to do so is convince your fellow citizens — and change them democratically, rather than five unelected judges. … Being a constitutionalist is integral to my approach to every other issue. So that I’m very devoted to.”
Same questioner: “So would you say it’s like a top-three priority for you — fighting gay marriage?”
Cruz: “No. 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, stopping courts from making public policy issues that are left to the people.
While Politico frames Cruz’s nuanced response as dishonesty, it aligns completely with positions he has expressed over the past several years, in public, and Politico goes on to admit as much. While appearing on “The Tonight Show” in 2013, they note, Cruz said “I support marriage between one man and one woman. … But I also think it’s a question for the states. Some states have made decisions one way on gay marriage. Some states have made decisions the other way.” During a second appearance last September, Cruz expressed the same federalist viewpoint, saying the 10th Amendment makes any issue unmentioned in the Constitution a matter for states to decide.
“Under the constitution, marriage is a question for the states,” Cruz said. He also framed the issue as a subordinate part of one of his three major goals, which he said were “live within our means, stop bankrupting our kids and grandkids, [and] follow the Constitution.”
But Politico’s framing becomes even more inexcusable the closer one looks at Cruz’s advocacy on the issue of gay marriage. In June, the same month Politico notes he pledged to make gay marriage “front and center” for his campaign, Cruz published an editorial in National Review calling for a constitutional amendment, not to ban gay marriage, but instead to explicitly leave the issue to the states. That editorial aligned perfectly with Cruz’s rhetoric at the fundraiser, and elsewhere.
But despite this ample evidence Cruz hasn’t fluctuated much at all on gay marriage in recent months, Politico suggests he has, mostly based on an anonymous attack from an adviser to a rival campaign, who claims the recording proves there is “an Iowa Ted and a New York Ted.”
This isn’t the first time Politico has dubiously reported on the honesty of a presidential candidate. In early November, they claimed the Ben Carson campaign had admitted the candidate fabricated an acceptance at West Point, only to hastily correct themselves later when it was discovered Carson had done nothing of the sort.