Sen. Ted Cruz has been embracing so many far-right figures in his quest to become president that we’ve almost stopped being surprised every time he rolls out a new, more extreme endorsement.
Last week, Cruz outdid himself when he sent out a press release announcing the endorsement of Mike Bickle, head of the 24-hour International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.
Cruz’s announcement was remarkable because associating with Bickle had already caused a considerable amount of trouble for Cruz’s fellow Texan Rick Perry back when he was launching his first presidential run in 2011. Bickle, whose theology iscontroversial even among evangelicals, was involved in organizing a prayer rally meant to launch Perry’s campaign, which ended up causing trouble for the then-Texas governor when Bickle’s extreme views — including his belief that Oprah Winfrey is the forerunner to the Antichrist — came to light. Nonetheless, Bickle ended up emceeing the second half of the event.
Even more disturbing than his unusual theological beliefs about Oprah was a sermon that came to light after Perry’s prayer rally in which Bickle declared that in the End Times, God will “raise up a hunter” to kill Jews who don’t accept Christ “and the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolf Hitler.’”
This statement was similar to remarks made by Religious Right leader John Hagee that had caused Sen. John McCain to publicly reject his endorsement during his own presidential campaign in 2008.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who extensively covered Bickle’s role in Perry’s prayer rally back in 2011, took on Cruz’s latest endorsement on Friday, saying that while “candidates cannot be held responsible for everything said and done and believed by people who like them and endorse them and vote for them,” once you welcome and campaign on an endorsement, “you kind of own it” … and while John McCain sought to quickly distance himself from this type of controversy, Ted Cruz doesn’t seem to mind at all.