In a frantic effort to pin blame on the Planned Parenthood terror attack on Friday on anyone but the anti-choice right, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that Christian extremist Robert Louis Dear was "registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist" at a press conference on Sunday.
The Texas Tribune reported on Cruz' attempt to distance his party and presidential campaign from the attack at a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa.
The former Tea Party darling told reporters that to associate Dear's murderous five-hour rampage at the clinic with the Republican right's efforts to curtail women's right to choose is just "vicious rhetoric on the left blaming those who are pro-life.”
Dear -- who killed three people and injured nine others in the attack -- rambled to police about "baby parts" when he was apprehended, saying that he was trying to stop Planned Parenthood from slaughtering unborn children and selling their organs on the black market.
In the past, Cruz has called Planned Parenthood an "ongoing criminal enterprise." In September in an emotionally charged speech against Planned Parenthood, he lamented that "(w)e are now a nation that harvests the body parts of baby boys and girls.”
In his histrionic turn on the Senate floor, Cruz pointed to the heavily edited and since-debunked series of videos from anti-abortion extremists the Center for Medical Progress, the same videos that reportedly motivated Dear's attack on Friday.
In Iowa on Sunday, however, Cruz said it's ridiculous to blame him or his party in any way for the deaths of the victims.
"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 insisted.
A reporter pointed out that Dear was babbling about "baby parts" when he was arrested, Cruz flew off the handle, saying, "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. I don’t think it’s fair to blame the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer.”
Zack Ford at Think Progress said that Cruz was basing his remarks on a right-wing canard spawned by fringe right-wing blogger Jim Hoft, also known as The Gateway Pundit.
"(A)ll of the available information suggests he was none of those things," said Ford. "None of the people interviewed about Dear had anything to say about his gender identity. Nothing about his appearance nor any past reports of his identity suggests that he identifies as a woman. The voter registration form identifying him as female is the only discrepancy, making it most likely a typo and nothing more."
“I would call it a murder, and we’ll what the facts are," Cruz replied. "It was a multiple murder of what appears to be a deranged individual. And it was horrific, it was evil, and we’ll find out more out about the facts, but I don’t think we should jump to conclusions.”
Planned Parenthood said on Sunday, "We now know the man responsible for the tragic shooting at PP's health center in Colorado was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion."
"It's not enough to denounce the tragedy without also denouncing the poisonous rhetoric that fueled it," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Instead, some politicians are continuing to stoke it, which is unconscionable."