As Ted Cruz surges into second place in polls out of Iowa, with its caucus often filled with social conservatives, he's winning votes with a strategy that Rachel Maddow says ought to frighten you.
Cruz first made headlines for appearing onstage with "kill the gays" preacher Kevin Swanson this month at what was dubbed the National Religious Liberties Conference. Before introducing Cruz, Swanson warmed up the crowd with a lengthy reasoning for the need to eventually execute gays and lesbians. Cruz has still not distanced himself from Swanson.
But now he's gone even further, touting endorsements in news releases of religious extremists such as Ron Baity. GLAAD lists Baity's accomplishments, such as installing "Vote for Marriage" billboards all over North Carolina, comparing gays to murderers, and implying gays are worse than maggots.
"Since they cannot produce they must recruit young people to their perverted, warped agenda," Baity said, according to GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project. "One cannot think of anything more nauseating, debased, lewd and immoral than recruiting precious young people into such shameful conduct."
Cruz on Friday announced the names of more than 200 social conservatives who are endorsing him, including Baity and another North Carolinian, Flip Benham, father to the Benham brothers, who lost their HGTV show after being called out for antigay beliefs.
Flip Benham runs Operation Save America and has, for example, crashed same-sex weddings to protest.
“We’re fighting the devil and his lies in the world and the flesh, and moving it to a thing called the homosexual agenda — and it’s the devil’s agenda," Benham has said in the past, according to Right Wing Watch.
Baity and Benham are added to a growing list of endorsements by radical social conservatives, including Sandy Rios of the American Family Association. Rios has said God will send natural disasters as retribution for same-sex marriage. She's also told her radio listeners to "prepare for martyrdom" in response to marriage equality.
“I am excited by the growing number of endorsements we are receiving from pastors,” Cruz said in his latest release on Tuesday, touting the backing of Kentucky pastor Jeff Fugate. You'll remember him as a prominent figure in rallies backing Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis when she refused to let same-sex couples marry.
"It is time to denounce the myth of separation of church and state," Fugate wrote on Twitter November 17. "American history dispells & destroys this straw man."
And on Tuesday night, out MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow called out another of the endorsements that Cruz is touting — from anti-abortion activist Troy Newman. In her typical fashion, Maddow outlines Newman's long history of supporting violence against doctors who perform abortions, and then asks whether Cruz also supports this.
Watch the Maddow video below:
UPDATE: Ted Cruz responds to Maddow's inquiry surrounding radical religious right endorsement.