Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has tapped for his “Colorado Leadership Team” a state representative who has claimed to exorcise a lesbian soldier, implied that LGBTQ Boy Scout leaders should be drowned, and charged that Planned Parenthood officials have the “same demonic spirit of murder” as an accused abortion clinic shooter.
Cruz selected state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs) despite comments by the lawmaker that have drawn condemnation, including Klingenschmitt’s widely publicized claim that, as an Army chaplain, he performed an exorcism on a lesbian soldier, during which he said, “you foul spirit of lesbianism, this woman has renounced you, come out of her in Jesus’ name.”
Klingenschmitt again made headlines last week when he appeared on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and said transgender people “not only want to be confused about their own identity, but they want the rest of us to be confused with them. Now they want the government to join them in that pretense. They are making us into liars.”
Cruz posted a news release naming the Colorado Springs representative to his team the day after Klingenschmitt appeared on The Daily Show.
“I am honored to have the support of so many courageous conservatives in Colorado,” Cruz said in the release. “People all across Colorado and this country are coalescing around our campaign.”
Cruz’s list of 25 “current and former elected officials and key grassroots leaders” includes some of Colorado’s most conservative lawmakers, including state Sen. Laura Woods (R-Westminster), whose fate in the November election is likely to determine whether Democrats take control of the state senate.
But in an election year with such high-pitched hyperbole, Cruz’s association with Klingenschmitt is unlikely to have an impact on voters, said John Straayer, professor of political science at Colorado State University.
“I don’t think it’s going to be much of a problem for Cruz, frankly,” Straayer told Rewire. “I think there will be more noise about that connection than consequence. This whole campaign is so full of noise, and accusations and characterizations that fly all over the place. I don’t see this rising out and becoming meaningful.”
Cruz’s selection of Klingenschmitt is the latest in a series of campaign moves that have connected the GOP presidential candidate with radical policy proposals. Cruz’s “religious liberty” advisers in March released a list of recommendations pushing policies that would block access to contraception and legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Klingenschmitt did not return a call from Rewire for comment.
Right Wing Watch, which has closely tracked Klingenschmitt and was among the first to report on Cruz’s selection of the state representative, pointed out that during his presidential run, Cruz has allied himself with numerous far-right figures.
CORRECTION: This piece has been updated to clarify Gordon Klingenschmitt’s position in the Colorado House of Representatives.