BETTENDORF, Iowa— -- Presidential candidate Ted Cruz took a question about women's access to birth control and turned it into an attack against Democrats Monday, saying at an Iowa town hall that they've manufactured a war on women and falsely painted conservatives as the "condom police."
"Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America. Look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila. So, yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them, but it’s an utter made-up nonsense issue,” Cruz said at a campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa.
The Republican senator from Texas used humor to explain his stance, subtly referencing his own use of family planning.
"Now, listen, I have been a conservative my entire life,” Cruz said. “I have never met anybody, any conservative, who wants to ban contraceptives. As I noted, Heidi and I, we have two little girls. I’m very glad we don’t have 17.”
While Cruz, 44, expressed his support for access to birth control, he reiterated his opposition to abortion and attacked Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for her pro-abortion rights beliefs.
"Hillary Clinton embraces abortion on demand in all circumstances up until the moment of birth, partial birth abortion with taxpayer funding with no notification for parents in any circumstances," Cruz said.
Cruz said Clinton can't base her candidacy on the economy, Obamacare or foreign policy, so she and the Democrats have created a false narrative about Republicans opposing birth control to scare voters.
"So what do you do, you go, ‘Ah ha, the condom police. I’m going to make up a completely made-up threat and try to scare a bunch of folks who are not paying a lot of attention into thinking someone’s going to steal their birth control. What nonsense," Cruz said.
Shortly after answering the question, Cruz was also asked about Planned Parenthood and how he would get rid of the organization. He made no reference to the Friday shooting in Colorado Springs at a Planned Parenthood facility, but renewed his pledge that he would instruct the Department of Justice to investigate the health care provider on his first day in the White House.
"On these videos, you see senior officials of Planned Parenthood callously, heartlessly laughing, sipping chardonnay and selling the body parts of unborn children and you should just ask are those my values. Is that what I stand for?" Cruz said, citing a series of recent anti-Planned Parenthood videos.
Planned Parenthood has denied being engaged in any improper activities, but said its affiliates will no longer accept any reimbursement for expenses associated with “donating tissue after an abortion for medical research.”
Cruz has previously called the Colorado Springs shooting "horrific" and "unacceptable." He rebutted those who've claimed the criticism of Planned Parenthood by Republican presidential candidates could have inspired the shooting.
"Well, I think there has been some vicious rhetoric on the left. Blaming those who are pro-life. I’ll tell you I am proud to be unambiguously pro-life, to support protecting every human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, I think every human life is a gift from God,” Cruz said in Newton, Iowa, Sunday.
“This murder that occurred in Colorado is tragic. It is a criminal act, we don’t fully know the motivations of this deranged individual.”
Clinton campaign spokeswoman Christina Reynolds released a statement today slamming Cruz for his record on women's health and his Monday remarks about Clinton.
"Ted Cruz’s colorful comments can’t hide his revisionist history on the sustained Republican effort to restrict access to women's health care. He threatened to shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood,” Reynolds says. “He tried to roll back protections that prevent women from being fired for using contraception. He claimed that emergency birth control was an ‘abortifacient,’ which is both medically and scientifically incorrect.
"As Cruz tries to police women’s health care decisions and deny a war on women, Hillary Clinton will fight every day to protect them against this seemingly endless Republican assault.”