Over the past few weeks, we have been covering the parade of increasingly extreme activists whom Sen. Ted Cruz is embracing as he seeks to shore up the hard-right vote in the Republican presidential primary.
There was the conference Cruz spoke at immediately after the summit’s organizer declared that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. There was the list of endorsements from faith leaders that his campaign released that included a pastor who has blamed Ebola on gay rights and another whose long history of right-wing activism includes protesting at gay couple’s weddings and a criminal conviction for stalking an abortion doctor. And then there was the joint press release that Cruz issued with Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, announcing the endorsement of the activist who has long inhabited the radical fringes of the anti-choice movement.
Last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow looked into Newman’s history, citing our reporting on Newman and Operation Rescue, including his backing of capital punishment for abortion providers and tying abortion rights to natural disasters such as the current drought in California.
“This is one of those stories that I recognize the beltway media doesn’t sort of have its feelers out for,” Maddow said. “As Ted Cruz ascends in the polls and as his lift in the polls is driven basically entirely by very, very conservative Religious Right voters, this is part of understanding why and this is one of the things that he should explain to people who may have some justifiable concerns about who he’s building his campaign on.”
For more on Newman and his colleague Cheryl Sullenger, who as Maddow noted was convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic in the 1980s, you can read our recent in-depth report on Operation Rescue.