Call Ted Cruz old-fashioned, but he just doesn’t think we should legalize child molestation for the sake of political correctness.
That was the essence of the Texas senator’s rebuttal to Donald Trump on Thursday, after the GOP front-runner declared his opposition to North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.” The controversial law allows businesses in the state to prohibit transgender individuals from using the restrooms of their choice.
“There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate,” Trump told NBC’s Today. “There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic punishment they’re taking.”
Cruz built his political brand on being a reactionary’s reactionary. But it’s been difficult to get to the right of the GOP’s 2016 primary field, even for a Muslim-bashing, dildo-hating, anarcho-capitalist of Cruz’s stature. The Texas senator has spent most of the race running two steps behind Trump’s latest innovation in right-wing demagoguery. While he has painted himself as the field’s only true conservative, Cruz has been forced to build that case by attacking Trump’s past positions rather than his present ones. Until now.
“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,” Cruz said on Glenn Beck’s radio show. His campaign later adapted his remarks into an official statement.
The senator spent the rest of his day raising awareness about the imaginary child-molestation epidemic that North Carolina’s bathroom law had brought to an end. “Are there any parents of daughters here?” Cruz asked supporters at a rally in Frederick, Maryland. “I’m the father of two little girls … Here is basic common sense: Grown adult men, strangers, should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls.”
Expect to hear a lot more talk about grown men cornering little girls from the Texas senator in the coming weeks. As far as wedge issues in a GOP primary go, transgender bathroom access is a pretty good one to tack right on. According to a Reuters poll released Thursday, 64 percent of Republicans believe people should use public restrooms “according to the biological sex on their birth certificate,” while only 23 percent say people should select toilets “according to the gender with which they identify.”
Trump has been unable to disqualify himself in the eyes of the GOP electorate despite many valiant efforts. Alas, no amount of menstruation jokes, Muslim bans, incitement to violence, or penis boasts seemed to do the trick. Between now and the convention, Cruz will work to turn the Donald’s outburst of empathy for transgendered folks into his one truly fatal gaffe.