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How Cruz affects the 2016 primary will come down to how the other candidates react to him—whether by moving to the right themselves on some issues or by using Cruz as a contrast to try to distinguish themselves as more moderate. Either way, Cruz has spent his last months before officially becoming a presidential candidate highlighting his ability to get on the most conservative side of an issue.
In Iowa, Cruz told conservative Christians he is the Republican field's leading opponent of gay marriage.
As the country has started approving of same-sex marriage and many Republican officials have deemphasized the party's long-time focus on defining marriage as "one man, one woman," Cruz has remained a sharp opponent. While visiting Iowa two weeks ago, Cruz told a crowd of evangelicals that the issue "distinguishes him from other potential candidates," per the Des Moines Register, and that he still sees opposing same-sex marriage as a front-burner issue. So do many evangelicals in the state, who made up over half of GOP caucus-goers in 2012.
Cruz took that fight to the Senate floor in February, promising to introduce a constitutional amendment that would leave marriage up to the states while also signing onto a bill with the same goal.
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Cruz introduced Senate resolutions on social issues in Washington, D.C.
Congress has the power to undo laws passed by the District of Columbia's local government, but as The Washington Post notes, such an effort would need President Obama's support to succeed. So while Cruz's recent resolutions to undo D.C. policies—one which keeps employers from firing workers who use birth control and another which exempts "religiously affiliated educational institutions from the city's gay nondiscrimination law," per the Post—are unlikely to succeed, they did once again underline his commitment to being a staunch social conservative after some Republicans have urged the party to focus more on economic issues.
Cruz told Fox News viewers that President Obama was an apologist for Islamic radicals.
Cruz's presidential primary opponents may struggle to match his strident rhetoric on a host of issues. Foreign policy is a big one, as Cruz demonstrated in a February appearance on Fox News. The Texan said Obama's statements and policies were hurting the global fight against ISIS, particularly because he was being "an apologist for radical Islamic terrorists, to analogize it to the Crusades from 700 years ago," Cruz said.
In a recent appearance on ABC News, Cruz said he'd be willing to send ground forces to fight ISIS in the Middle East.
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