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WASHINGTON (AP) — One day after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Hispanics don't panhandle because it would be shameful for them, the Republican presidential contender is refusing to offer an opinion about African-Americans who beg for money on the street.

Asked Thursday what he thought of them, Cruz turned away without speaking, striding into a senators-only elevator in the Capitol and waiting for the doors to close.

Speaking yesterday at a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting, Cruz recalled once having lunch with a Hispanic entrepreneur who asked when the last time was he had seen a Hispanic panhandler.

"It's a great question," Cruz said, adding, "I'm not sure I've ever seen a Hispanic panhandler, and the reason is in our community it would be shameful to be begging on the street."

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a declared presidential candidate, has a new defense for missing Attorney General Loretta Lynch's confirmation vote last week. According to Cruz, not voting was the same as voting "no."

"I voted twice against Loretta Lynch being confirmed. There was no significance to the final vote. And I had a scheduling conflict. Under the Senate rules, absence is the equivalent of a 'no' vote. It is identical procedurally,"Cruz told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.

In fact, missing a confirmation vote isn't the same as voting "no," and could affect the outcome. And Senate rules don't say otherwise.

Cruz's office has insisted all along that the procedural "cloture" vote on Lynch's nomination last week was the one that mattered, and Cruz opposed that. He then became the only senator to miss the final vote, despite having delivered a floor speech earlier in the day railing against Lynch.

His office didn't explain why he missed the final vote, although Cruz was expected that evening at a fundraiser in Texas.

Cruz repeated the cloture explanation to reporters, telling them: "Cloture was the vote that mattered. It required 60 votes."

In fact cloture on Lynch took only a simple majority under a rules change on nominations pushed through by Democrats. "Fair point. Sorry I actually thought of the rules as they were written," Cruz said when reporters corrected him on that point.

Lynch was confirmed April 23 on a vote of 56-43, with Cruz recorded as "not voting."

BALTIMORE (AP) — The highest-ranking Baltimore police officer in the arrest that led to Freddie Gray's death was hospitalized in April 2012 over mental health concerns for an unknown duration and had his guns confiscated by local sheriff's deputies, according to records from the sheriff's office and court obtained by The Associated Press.

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