For Ted Cruz, 2016 will be the election for religious liberty. And he's got some choice words for his fellow Republican White House hopefuls about their records of defending it.
Speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Washington conference Thursday, the Texas senator called the controversy over "religious freedom" laws in Indiana and Arkansas "heartbreaking." He blamed the Democratic Party and big business for teaming up against the cause of religious liberty.
But that wasn't the saddest part of the battle, he said. Rather, it was "just how many Republicans ran for the hills."
"More than a few Republicans, sadly, even more than a few Republicans running for president in 2016, chose that moment somehow to go rearrange their sock drawer," Cruz said. "I'll tell you this, I will never, ever, ever shy from standing up and defending the religious liberty of every American."
When Indiana's law came to national attention in the spring, Cruz quickly backed Gov. Mike Pence, who initially defended its provisions before later calling for it to be amended. Cruz's fellow presidential aspirants expressed support for the law as well. But Jeb Bush seemed to change his stance after a few days: At first he defended Pence, saying he'd "done the right thing" and that the law was "simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs." Later, he said lawmakers could've taken a "better approach" to the law.