Sen. Ted Cruz speaks with Donald Trump during a Tea Party Patriots rally against the Iran nuclear deal on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sept. 9, 2015.
Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg/Getty

Republican race turns its attention to … bathrooms?

The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/21/16, 9:42 PM ET

Trump upends anti-LGBT GOP orthodoxy with NC bathroom law rebuke

Rachel Maddow reports on the deepening ostracism of Mississippi and North Carolina for their new anti-LGBT, pro-discrimination laws, and notes Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s rejection of what is a nearly uniform anti-LGBT Republican position.
Raise your hand if you predicted last year that by mid-April 2016, one of the key points of contention between the top two Republican presidential candidates would be, of all things, bathrooms.
Ted Cruz went after Donald Trump on Thursday for saying transgender people should be able to use whichever bathroom they want.
 
“Have we gone stark-raving nuts?” Cruz said at a rally in Frederick, Maryland. […]”Grown adult men – strangers – should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls,” Cruz said.
The controversy, such as it is, apparently started with Trump’s appearance on NBC’s “Today” yesterday morning, when the Republican presidential frontrunner was asked about North Carolina’s HB2 discrimination measure. Trump said the state went too far.
 
“North Carolina, what they’re going through with all of the business that’s leaving and all of the strife…. You leave it the way it is,” the GOP candidate argued. “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.” Referring to transgender people using the bathroom that matches their gender identity, Trump added, “There has been so little trouble,” before marveling at the “economic punishment” North Carolina is experiencing.
 
Asked if he has transgender employees, the candidate said, “I really don’t know. I probably do. I really don’t know.” Matt Lauer asked, “So if Caitlyn Jenner were to walk into Trump Tower and want to use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses?”
 
Trump responded, “That is correct.”
 
I’m not generally in the habit of agreeing with the Republican frontrunner, especially on matters related to respect for diversity, but his responses yesterday happened to be correct. It might have been the most sensible comments he’s made since launching his campaign.
 
Except Ted Cruz doesn’t seem to think so. The Texas senator immediately saw this as a potential wedge issue, and launched a new offensive.
“Donald Trump is no different from politically correct leftist elites. Today, he joined them in calling for grown men to be allowed to use little girls’ public restrooms. As the dad of young daughters, I dread what this will mean for our daughters – and for our sisters and our wives. It is a reckless policy that will endanger our loved ones.
 
“Yet Donald stands up for this irresponsible policy while at the same time caving in on defending individual freedoms and religious liberty. He has succumbed to the Left’s agenda, which is to force Americans to leave God out of public life while paying lip service to false tolerance.
 
“This is not real tolerance. The Left wants to force its belief system onto Americans across the country and silence people of faith in the public square. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump is all too eager to join them. This simply confirms that the same man who favored partial-birth abortion and still supports public funding for Planned Parenthood will sacrifice principle on the altar of political correctness. Trump will not defeat political correctness. Today he bowed to it.”
Maybe Cruz hopes to exploit this to turn conservatives against Trump; maybe Cruz actually believes his rhetoric. Either way, there aren’t a whole lot of policy differences between the Republican presidential hopefuls, though we can apparently add bathrooms to the exceedingly short list.
 
 
 

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Transgender

Republican race turns its attention to ... bathrooms?