Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz denied that anti-abortion activists’ rhetoric holds any responsibility for a mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic. Republicans have used Planned Parenthood as a political whipping post in recent months, falsely claiming the organization sells the remains of aborted fetuses to scientists.
Robert Lewis Dear, 57, was arrested on Friday night following an hours-long standoff with police after he barricaded himself inside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. A police officer and two civilians were killed; nine were injured. Dear allegedly made a comment about “baby parts” while being arrested.
Cruz has championed the attacks on the women’s health clinics and has gone so far as threatening to shut down the federal government if the group receives any federal funding for cancer prevention screenings and other reproductive healthcare and has repeatedly claimed his attacks are a “moral issue.”
The candidate denied that his and others’ aggressive attacks on Planned Parenthood could have influenced the shooter. Instead, he cited The Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft’s claim that the attacker was transgender, saying “It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist, if that’s what he is.”
Hoft based his claim off a voter registration form that incorrectly lists Dear’s gender as female. Hoft is widely known as “the dumbest man on the internet” based on his ridiculous claims and conspiracy theories.
“We don’t know what those motives were, but whatever they were, it’s unacceptable, and it’s horrific and wrong,” Cruz told reporters before a campaign event in Iowa, but declined to label the shooting “domestic terrorism.”
“I would call it a murder. It was a multiple murder of what appears to be a deranged individual. And it was horrific, it was evil and we will find out more about the facts, but I don’t think we should jump to conclusions,” he said without a hint of irony.