Sen. Ted Cruz does not support religious tests for office, nor does he support the notion that homosexual behavior ought to be illegal, but he is willing to excuse political allies who do if it means delivering on substantive policy issues.
In other words: In politics, it’s not the character of the statesman that matters. It’s the policy, stupid.
“In general elections in particular, voters often … are given a binary choice. And so, I’ve supported a number of candidates in general elections with whom I disagree substantially because I think, on balance, it would be better than the alternative,” the Texas senator told the Washington Examiner’s editorial board Tuesday.
“I’ll note in the presidential [election] it took me considerable time to make the decision to endorse Donald Trump. I had significant disagreements with him,” he added. “[I]t came down principally to between Trump and Hillary Clinton. I thought the policies Hillary would implement would be deeply harmful for the country, and the policies that Trump was campaigning on, I believed, would be far more beneficial. And I will say, in the first year, on substance, I think that assessment was proven correct.”
It has been six weeks since the Alabama special election, which saw former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who Cruz endorsed and then disowned, pitted against Democratic attorney Doug Jones.
Moore’s stunning defeat came after a string of news reports alleged he sexually harassed and even assaulted multiple women, including some who were minors at the time of the reported misconduct. The accusations were so serious, in fact, that Moore saw some of his supporters, including Sens. Cruz and John Cornyn, R-Texas, rescind their endorsements.
But even before the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, it was well-known that Moore championed positions that Cruz claims he opposes, including religious tests for office and laws against homosexuality.
Pressed to explain how he squares his professed love of the U.S. Constitution with his short-lived endorsement of a senatorial candidate whose relationship with the law can be described accurately as hostile, Cruz explained that politics is a game of tradeoffs.
“I don’t know every statement Roy Moore has said. I’ve seen the reports of those statements you referenced, and there are very few politicians – if any – with whom I agree on everything,” Cruz said.
He added, “Roy Moore won the primary. When that occurred, the voters were given a binary choice between Roy Moore and a Democrat, Doug Jones, whose views across the board are contrary to the views and values of the people of Alabama. Looking at that binary choice, I made the decision to support the Republican nominee, and so, I endorsed him.”
Put more simply, the senator doesn't support religious litmus tests or anti-homosexual legislation, but he can get behind a Republican who does because it beats having another Democrat in office.
“Ultimately, the voters of Alabama did something that many thought was unthinkable,” Cruz told the Examiner. “They elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. Now, the fact that they elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate is not good for 28 million Texans. It’s not good for the country to have yet another hard-left vote that votes with [New York Sen.] Chuck Schumer and [Massachusetts Sen.] Elizabeth Warren and [Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders in support of policies that I think are manifestly harmful.”
“But that was a decision for the voters of Alabama, and they made their decision,” he added.
Cruz was pressed separately in his meeting Wednesday with the Examiner's editorial board to explain whether he believes social conservatives are giving the president a pass on allegations he cheated on the first lady with an adult film actress. More specifically, Cruz was asked if it’s not “the character of the statesman” that matters, but the "pragmatic policy result."
The senator responded: “My focus is on substance.”