DES MOINES, IOWA — Banning abortion and withdrawing federal funding for Planned Parenthood were the main themes of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s rally Wednesday night in West Des Moines, where several hundred Iowans literally spilled out into the hallways to hear the Texas Senator.
Pointing out that there were only five days until the Iowa caucuses, Cruz fiercely made the case that he’s the most pro-life candidate — and that the other Republican presidential candidates are all talk.
“Every candidate in a Republican primary says they’re pro-life. That’s what you say in a Republican primary, regardless of the facts,” Cruz said. “The question we ought to ask is, don’t tell me that you’re pro-life. Show me. When have you stood up and fought to defend the right to life?”
Cruz then provided a list of his personal efforts to make it harder for women to receive abortions, particularly when he was the Solicitor General of Texas. He spoke about his efforts to defund Planned Parenthood; to require women under 18 to notify their parents before having an abortion; and to prohibit “partial-birth abortion,” a procedure used to terminate a late-term pregnancy.
Cruz also specifically called out his opponent Donald Trump, who he said currently supports taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. Though Trump has said he opposes abortion, he has defended the women’s health organization, noting that the majority of the services it provides surround sexually transmitted disease testing, not abortion.
“If you care about the right to life, there is a clear difference among candidates,” Cruz said.
At the rally, Cruz was also accompanied by Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a Christian group that fiercely opposes abortion and gay rights. Perkins, who formally endorsed Cruz on Tuesday, said he would lead a coalition called “Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” which he said already has more than 17,000 members. On Wednesday, Cruz released a video asking more people to join.
With the caucuses fast-approaching, Cruz is trying to appeal to Iowa’s large evangelical Christian voter base — and it seems to be working. Ron Kennedy, an evangelical Lutheran and salesman from Des Moines, told ThinkProgress that he thought Cruz’s positions were “right on” and that he’d “probably” caucus for him.
Ron’s wife, Ann, agreed.
“I was very impressed,” she said. “If we don’t value life at all stages, we as humans can’t function.”