During a campaign stop on Sunday,Ted Cruz rejected preliminary reports suggesting that the pro-life movement bears some responsibility for a shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood—and mocked the reactionary nature on both sides of the political spectrum.
“The media promptly wants to blame him on the pro-life movement when at this point there’s very little evidence to indicate that,” Cruz told reporters, according to a report from The Texas Tribune.
A reporter then told the Texas senator that the suspect referred to “baby parts” while he was being arrested—likely a reference to stories from this summer about Planned Parenthood’s program that makes tissue from aborted fetuses available to researchers. Pro-life activists used the hashtag #PPSellsBabyParts to draw attention to reports on the story.
“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,” Cruz retorted, according to The Texas Tribune. “I don’t think it’s fair to blame on the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer.”
Rick Tyler, the national spokesman for Cruz’s presidential campaign, said the Texas Republican was making a wry point about the media coverage of the story.
“The point that was being made to Patrick was that reporters were trying to get a full reaction to a raw story where little is confirmed and a lot of misinformation is being reported,” he said, referring to Patrick Svitek, who wrote the Texas Tribune story quoting Cruz.
The shooting left three people dead, including one police officer. Alleged shooter Robert Dear entered a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic during the crime. The ensuing standoff with police lasted for hours.
Other Republican presidential candidates have discussed the crime differently than Cruz.
“What he did is domestic terrorism,” said staunchly pro-life Gov. Mike Huckabee, speaking to CNN’s State of the Union, “and what he did is absolutely abominable, especially to us in the pro-life movement, because there’s nothing about any of us that would condone or in any way look the other way on something like this.”
Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both issued statements supporting Planned Parenthood and abortion rights in the wake of the shooting.
Local news reports indicate the alleged shooter entered a Planned Parenthood clinic and opened fire there, but did not kill any of the clinic’s patients or employees. Besides the three victims who died, 11 people were injured. NBC News reported that acquaintances of the suspected shooter described him as “reclusive, glaringly eccentric, and anti-social.”