Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told fundraiser attendees earlier this month in Manhattan that fighting same-sex marriage would not be a “top priority” in a hypothetical Cruz administration, according to audio provided to Politico.
That’s a departure from the Republican presidential candidate’s comments after a Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states back in June. At the time, he said that fighting same-sex marriage would be “front and center” in his campaign.
Cruz made the comment to GOP donors who were moderate to liberal on social issues at the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in New York, according to the report.
Here’s the exchange between Cruz and a Republican gay-rights supporter, as quoted by Politico:
During the question period, one of the donors told Cruz that gay marriage was one of the few issues on which the two disagreed. Then the donor asked: “So would you say it’s like a top-three priority for you — fighting gay marriage?”
“No,” Cruz replied. “I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority. And that cuts across the whole spectrum — whether it’s defending [the] First Amendment, defending religious liberty.”
Soothing the attendee without contradicting what he has said elsewhere, Cruz added: “People of New York may well resolve the marriage question differently than the people of Florida or Texas or Ohio. … That’s why we have 50 states — to allow a diversity of views. And so that is a core commitment.”
The donor then thanked Cruz for his response and wished him luck on his campaign, according to the report.
A spokeswoman for the campaign told Politico the exchange was consistent with Cruz’s prior public statements.
“These comments are nothing new,” spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told the publication. “This is nothing different from what he says all the time.”
Cruz had criticized real estate magnate Donald Trump’s “judgment” to be President at the same fundraiser, revealing another divide between what the Texas Republican says behind closed doors and what he says in public, where he’s pointedly declined to slight the GOP frontrunner. The New York Times reported on that remark and posted the audio online earlier this month.