The Austin Chronicle

Political Collateral From Colorado Springs

Trump, Cruz, and Huckabee seek to distance shooter's motivations from discredited video

By Richard Whittaker, December 4, 2015, News

The GOP presidential primary has seemed so like a deranged dervish whirling ever faster to the right that it seems impossible to believe that any candidate would ever dare strike a less radical pose. However, the murder of three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood may have created an opportunity for Republicans to differentiate themselves from the increasingly fascistic pronunciations of Donald Trump, and the increasingly debunked claims of Ben "the pyramids were grain silos" Carson. Cue political whiplash as the hopefuls attempt to condemn the shooter while still savaging the health care provider.

On Saturday, the day after the shooting, Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted "Praying for the loved ones of those killed, those injured & first responders who bravely got the situation under control in Colorado Springs." Not to be outdone, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee went on CNN's State of the Union to condemn suspect Robert Lewis Dear, saying, "What he did is domestic terrorism, and what he is did is absolutely abominable."

However, these statements are probably not enough to make anyone forget that Cruz previously called Planned Parenthood a "criminal enterprise," and attempted to cut all its federal funding as recently as September. Nor that he recently touted the endorsement of Troy Newman of hard-line anti-choice group Operation Rescue, which advises its members on how to harass patients and staff at clinics, and has previously called for medical staff who provide abortions to be executed. And, as if to mitigate the decency of his statement denouncing the Planned Parenthood murders, Cruz later in the weekend floated the possibility that the shooter was a "transgendered leftist activist."

Huckabee, who has also called for the complete defunding of Planned Parenthood, went on to tell CNN that it was "a little bit disingenuous" for the organization to blame the anti-choice movement for Dear's actions (even though Dear reportedly quoted the now-infamous doctored tapes of Planned Parent­hood staff when he said "no more baby parts" before shooting started). Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Carly Fiorina went even further, calling attempts to connect Dear to the anti-choice movement "typical left-wing tactics."

Meanwhile Trump, who called Dear a "maniac" on NBC's Meet the Press, similarly cited the debunked tapes, claiming that they showed Planned Parenthood staff offering to sell fetal tissue like they're "selling parts to a car."

Editor's Note: This story originally ran online in Nov. 30's "News Roundup."

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