If the American mainstream judges a presidential candidate by the company he or she keeps, Ted Cruz may have a bit of a problem.
For months, the Texas senator has touted support from, and shared stages with, some pretty unhinged extremists, all in the hopes of securing campaign support from the religious right and members of the Republicans’ evangelical base. See, for example, Cruz’s alliances with the likes of Mike Bickle and Scott Roeder.
The list just got a little longer. Right Wing Watch noted yesterday that Cruz last week announced that Gordon Klingenschmitt would be part of his Colorado Leadership Team.
“I am honored to have the support of so many courageous conservatives in Colorado,” Cruz said in a press release celebrating the formation of “his Colorado Leadership Team with the endorsement of 25 current and former elected officials and key grassroots leaders,” including Klingenschmitt.Some might recognize Klingenschmitt from a Daily Show segment just last week in which his ignorance and bigotry were on full display.
Klingenschmitt’s name may be familiar to longtime readers. As we discussed back in November – shortly after he got elected to Colorado’s General Assembly for the first time – Klingenschmitt is not just another social conservative activist. Rather, the former Navy chaplain is a rather extraordinary figure in the religious right, best known for, among other things, claiming to have rid a woman of the “foul spirit of lesbianism” through an exorcism. He also wrote a book arguing, in all seriousness, that President Obama is possessed by demons. (He didn’t mean that metaphorically.)
Last year, in a horrific crime, a pregnant woman in Colorado was attacked by a stranger with a knife and who cut her baby out of her womb. Klingenschmitt described the brutality as evidence of ”the curse of God upon America” – prompting Republican leaders in the state legislature to strip Klingenschmitt of his seat on the health committee.
This is the guy Cruz welcomed onto his official Colorado Leadership Team.
I suppose the question I can’t quite shake is this: is there anyone too extreme for Ted Cruz? Just how far would a right-wing radical have to go before the Texas senator said, “Thanks for your support, but I’d prefer you not have any kind of association with my campaign”?
That’s really not a rhetorical question. I’m genuinely curious, because as things stand, it’s not clear if Team Cruz has any such limits.