-- In the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz claimed the "overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats" and that the Democrats and media are politicizing the shooting.
The Texas lawmaker was asked about the shooting, which left three dead, during a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt Monday.
During the interview, Cruz said he believes Democrats are soft on crime because “an overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats.”
“Now listen, here’s the simple and undeniable fact. The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn’t report that. What they report, and there’s a reason why the Democrats for years have been viewed as soft on crime, because they go in and they appoint to the bench judges who release violent criminals,” Cruz added.
"They go in and fight to give the right to vote to convicted felons. Why? Because the Democrats know convicted felons tend to vote Democrat.”
A press secretary for the Texas senator said Cruz wasn’t saying all Democrats are felons and was offering the comments in the context of the Colorado Springs shooting.
"Senator Cruz is making a point that a lot of liberals rush to judgment to pin this on the pro-life movement and that is completely misguided. He referenced a report that in fact a majority of felons register to vote as Democrats,” said Catherine Frazier, national press secretary to the Cruz campaign. "An overwhelming amount of felons actually vote as Democrats and he’s pushing back against that narrative that a lot of people want to put on conservatives to blame them for inciting this horrific shooting."
Police have not released a motive in Colorado Springs case.
A rep for the Cruz campaign said the senator was referencing a paper titled “Do Voting Rights Notification Laws Increase Ex-Felon Turnout?”
The study looks at ex-felons' voter registration and turnout in three states -- North Carolina, New York and New Mexico. In New York, it found most ex-felons registered as Democrats. But, importantly, they registered after they were convicted, so they were not necessarily registered Democrats at the time they committed their crimes.
When ABC News asked Cruz about his remarks today, he said he was “engaging in a process that is called "reasonable inference.”
"An inference is actually rational reasoning, which people do all the time,” he said.
Cruz claimed that elected officials appoint "senior Justice Department officials" and lawyers who "lionize" and "glorify" cop killers.
"When elected Democrats push to give felons the right to vote, it is a perfectly rational and reasonable inference to say those Democrats understand that the overwhelming majority of violent criminals vote Democratic," he said.
Cruz also told Hewitt the Colorado Springs shooting was “fundamentally wrong” and the work of a “deranged, homicidal killer.”
Hewitt asked Cruz about claims made by some that anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric by conservatives could have inspired the shooting that left three people dead. Cruz rebuffed those and instead pointed to the rhetoric of groups like the Black Lives Matter movement as an example of how the left could inspire violence.
“You want to talk about inflamed rhetoric, Black Lives Matter has been caught, their protesters on film, chanting 'pigs in a blanket,' 'fry ‘em like bacon.' Now that is hateful rhetoric, and I don’t see any reporters asking Hillary Clinton when she meets with Black Lives Matter whether she agrees with those sentiments that we should be murdering police officers,” Cruz said Monday.
“We said the federal criminal laws in this country should be enforced against anybody who violates them, and there shouldn’t be a partisan exemption for friends of the Democratic Party like Planned Parenthood.”