Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attempted to downplay the role anti-abortion rhetoric played in the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs that left three dead on Friday afternoon, by claiming the suspect is transgender.
When a reporter asked Cruz at an Iowa campaign stop Sunday evening about suspect Robert Lewis Dear saying he was motivated by “no more baby parts,” Cruz responded by saying he’s also been reported to be a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist.”
Cruz added, “We know that he was a man registered to vote as a woman.”
The false report about Dear’s voter registration was first reported by The Gateway Pundit, a “right-of-center news website,” which claimed that he “identifies as [a] woman.”
As the New York Times explained, Dear was very much a recluse, the type “that preferred to be left alone,” living in various single-wide trailers and cabins since his divorce in 2000. Neighbors did not know him well, and if they did, it’s because he would lash out at them when they tried to interfere with his business, like reporting him for mistreating his dogs.
The Times’ profile also identifies him as “generally conservative,” having been raised as a Baptist, but as someone who did not discuss politics much. According to his ex-wife, “he believed wholeheartedly in the Bible” and believed that abortion was wrong. He also distributed pamphlets criticizing President Obama to his neighbors in Colorado. On the voter registration form with the gender discrepancy, his party is listed as “UAF,” meaning unaffliated.
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.
But since before the shooting was even resolved on Friday, conservatives have been clinging to such discrepancies in an attempt to suggest that it had little to do with the issue of abortion. When a witness called MSNBC Friday afternoon and indicated that the shooting had come from the direction of the Chase bank, a building that was between her location and the Planned Parenthood, conservatives invented an entirely new narrative claiming that the incident was a bank robbery gone wrong and that the shooter had simply hidden in the Planned Parenthood when he was unable to get away. Colorado Springs police debunked this story before the situation was over, clarifying that he had not entered any other buildings at any point.
Dear’s reference to “baby parts” clearly refers to deceptively edited videos suggesting that Planned Parenthood was selling parts of aborted fetuses for a profit. The claims were quickly debunked; in fact, the cut footage from one of the surreptitiously recorded videos even shows the targeted doctor saying, “Nobody should be ‘selling’ tissue. That’s just not the goal here.” The myth, nevertheless, has persisted.
Listen to Cruz below: