By David McCabe
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is defending an ad critical of 2016 rival Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump meets with Gov. Mike Pence amid VP speculation The Hill's 12:30 Report Trump hires Florida chief strategist, new pollster MORE’s (R-Texas) comments on same-sex marriage.
“No, not at all,” Huckabee said. “And there’s nothing selective, there was nothing deceptive. The point is that in Iowa, he’s made a major point, and he’s pitched to evangelicals, as a person who is utterly authentic, he’s going to fight for religious liberty, he’s going to protect the right of people to disagree with decisions on same-sex marriage. But that’s not what you heard in that Manhattan fundraiser, and that's the only thing that I have pointed out.”
A super-PAC called Pursuing America's Greatness recently produced the ad in Iowa, which includes audio of an exchange between Cruz and an unidentified person at a New York fundraiser. The man asks Cruz whether he views his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples as a “top-three priority.” In the ad, Cruz is heard simply replying, “No.”
But the ad drew criticism from The Washington Post, which pointed out that Cruz’s comments were longer.
"No, I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority," he said in the audio, obtained by Politico and recorded at a fundraiser in New York. "And that cuts across the whole spectrum — whether it's defending the First Amendment, defending religious liberty, stopping courts from making public policy issues that are left to the people. And I also think the 10th Amendment to the Constitution cuts across a lot of issues."
“Obviously, I had nothing to do with the ad,” Huckabee said on Sunday, noting that it is illegal for campaigns to coordinate with super-PACs. “So there is no coordination or communication there. But it’s just a matter of listening to the transcript and recognizing that it’s not a big issue when he’s in Manhattan but it is a much bigger issue in Iowa.”
Huckabee is targeting Cruz, the front-runner in Iowa, has he looks to improve his standing in early-voting state. Huckabee won the caucuses there when he ran in 2008, but he is currently polling in the middle of the Republican field in the state.