Cruz refocuses talk of shooting to 'vicious rhetoric on the left'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Cruz Sounds Off on Planned Parenthood Shootings

Newton, Iowa— As questions continue to surround last week's shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Spring, Colorado, Republican candidate Ted Cruz on Sunday readily shifted focus to what he called "some vicious rhetoric on the left."

When asked about the shooter reportedly telling authorities "no more baby parts," Cruz resisted suggestions that recent conservative condemnations of Planned Parenthood — including discredited allegations that the organization profited from fetal tissue donations — contributed to the Colorado shooter's motives for killing three and staging an hours-long standoff with authorities.

During a campaign stop here in Iowa, the Texas senator seemed to reference unconfirmed reports, including one relating to the shooter's gender and political identification. The Cruz campaign told MSNBC that the senator was making a point that there were many different things that were reported, much of which is possibly not based on fact.

See Ted Cruz on the campaign trail:

28 PHOTOS
Ted Cruz on the campaign trail
See Gallery
Cruz refocuses talk of shooting to 'vicious rhetoric on the left'
STAFFORD-MARCH 1: Ted Cruz holds his victory rally at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford, Texas. On the left is his wife, Heidi and their two daughters and on the right is the Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick. (Photo by Lucian Perkins /for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, stands on stage during a Super Tuesday night event in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Cruz said Monday in Dallas that Super Tuesday will make the Republican primary a 'two-man race,' predicting that he and Donald Trump will finish far ahead of rivals Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson in terms of delegates. Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, greets attendees with his wife Heidi Cruz and children during a campaign event in San Antonio, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Cruz said Monday in Dallas that Super Tuesday will make the Republican primary a 'two-man race,' predicting that he and Donald Trump will finish far ahead of rivals Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson in terms of delegates. Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images *** Local Captions *** Ted Cruz; Heidi Cruz
US Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at a presidential campaign rally in Dallas, Texas on February 29, 2016 one day before the 'Super Tuesday' primaries. Americans in a dozen states head to the polls for a slew of primaries and caucuses March 1 on what is considered the most important day of the presidential nominations calendar. / AFP / Laura Buckman (Photo credit should read LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, arrives for a campaign rally near the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Ga., February 27, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 24: Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) greets people during a campaign rally at the Mach Industrial Group on February 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. The process to select the next Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates continues. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
AMES, IA - JANUARY 30: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) arrives at a campaign event at the Gateway Hotel on January 30, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 31: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to Iowa voters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds January 31, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The U.S. presidential election kicks off tomorrow with the state's caucuses. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
HAMLIN, IA - JANUARY 30: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at a campaign event at Darrell's Place on January 30, 2016 in Hamlin, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
HAMLIN, IA - JANUARY 30: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (C) greets an audience member as he is introduced at a campaign event at Darrell's Place on January 30, 2016 in Hamlin, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a campaign rally at the Siena Community Center on December 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Two days after participating in the fifth GOP presidential debate, Cruz began a swing through eight Super Tuesday states in five days. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) leads a moment of silence for victims of the San Bernardino shooting prior to his address to the Republican Jewish Coalition at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. Candidates spoke and took questions from Jewish leaders and activists. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during a Tea Party Patriots rally against the Iran nuclear deal on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. A revolt among U.S. House Republicans delayed action on the Iran nuclear deal today as some members insisted they aren't bound by a Sept. 17 deadline in their efforts to kill the agreement. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 21: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to supporters at his Religious Liberty Rally on August 21, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Earlier in the day Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) visited and spoke to guests at the Iowa State Fair. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks at the Iowa State Fair Soapbox in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. A day after Jimmy Carter appeared on national television to talk about the cancer that's ravaging his body, Cruz criticized the former president's administration in a speech in Iowa. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, eats a pork chop at the Iowa Pork Producers tent during the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. A day after Jimmy Carter appeared on national television to talk about the cancer that's ravaging his body, Cruz criticized the former president's administration in a speech in Iowa. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks at the Rally for Religious Liberty in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. A day after Jimmy Carter appeared on national television to talk about the cancer that's ravaging his body, Republican presidential candidate Cruz criticized the former president's administration in a speech in Iowa. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 8: Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spends a few moments with his daughter Catherine before the start of the Cruz bus tour rally in a field behind Sprayberry's BBQ in Newnan, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Texas Senator Ted Cruz participates in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 29: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, awaits for the elevator doors to close as he arrives in the basement of the Capitol, July 29, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - JULY 23: Republican Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks out against the nuclear deal with Iran during a demonstration that was interrupted by counter protestors in Lafayette Park across the the street from the White House in Washington, DC on July 23, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, speaks during The Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, July 18, 2015. The sponsor, The FAMiLY LEADER, is a 'pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-life organization which champions the principle that God is the ultimate leader of the family.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
AMES, IA - JULY 18: Republican presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz of Texas fields questions at The Family Leadership Summit at Stephens Auditorium on July 18, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. According to the organizers the purpose of The Family Leadership Summit is to inspire, motivate, and educate conservatives. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, stands outside while waiting to speak during the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority' legislative luncheon in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 18, 2015. The annual Faith & Freedom Coalition Policy Conference gives top-tier presidential contenders as well as long shots a chance to compete for the large evangelical Christian base in the crowded Republican primary contest. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 04: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) participates in a Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill June 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The hearing is billed as 'Rewriting The Law, Examining the Process That Led to the ObamaCare Subsidy Rule'. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during a press conference at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Seneca, South Carolina, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Cruz says Donald Trump sent his lawyers cease and desist letters over a Cruz campaign ad that portrays Trump as pro-choice saying that if the Cruz campaign doesn't pull ad, they'll see immediate legal action to prevent the continued broadcast of this ad, according to Cruz. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"It's also reported that he was registered as an independent and as a woman and a transgender leftist activist, if that's what he is," Cruz said. He later added, "I don't think we should jump to conclusions until we know the facts actually of this individual and why he carried out this horrific murder."

RELATED: What we know about the shooter at the Colorado Planned Parenthood

The Gateway Pundit, a conservative news site, first reported what they considered a discrepancy over the shooter's gender identification. He was reportedly registered as a woman in Colorado's voter registration rolls.

Cruz on Sunday also refused to address how he would handle the millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the country, despite hammering Marco Rubio this weekend for previously supporting a path to citizenship. Cruz rejected the possibility of taking his support of a potential path to legal status off the table — despite his cries in the past against "amnesty."

"Let's demonstrate we can stop illegal immigration, we can protect our national security interests, we can protect our law enforcement interests," Cruz said in Iowa. "Then once that's done, we can have a conversation at that point about whatever people remain here illegally."

Cruz has insisted the border must be secured before addressing proposals of how to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants still living in the United States.

One week ago in Harlan, Iowa, when asked about the proposition of legal status being on the table, Cruz said, "We can have that conversation with the American people once we've secured the border."

Cruz adamantly rejects what he calls "amnesty" pushed by Rubio as part of the bill passed by the Senate in 2013 that would have opened up a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants in the country.

RELATED: Cruz accuses Rubio of false attacks to mislead voters

He compared the Senate's bill to the 1986 immigration reform passed by Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan that ultimately granted a pathway to legalization while also promising stronger enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Congress and the Rubio-Schumer "Gang of 8" bill proposed the exact same deal," Cruz said on Sunday. "We'll grant amnesty this time to 12 million in exchange for some day maybe securing the border in the future."

But questions over Cruz's own position on how to deal with the undocumented immigrant population became a sticking point in the Cruz-Rubio feud in mid-November -- as the two freshman senators continue to rise in recent polling to be the GOP's presidential nominee.

Amid Cruz's strong critiques of Rubio's previous immigration stances, Rubio blasted back at Cruz during a press conference in South Carolina two weeks ago: "Ted is a supporter of legalizing people that are in this country illegally."

The Rubio campaign pointed to an amendment proposed by Cruz in 2013 that would have barred the granting of citizenship to undocumented immigrants but, instead, allowed them to receive work permits and stay in the country legally.

Alex Conant, spokesman for Rubio's campaign, pointed to Cruz's past support for a path to legal status and told NBC News on Sunday, "If Senator Cruz is changing his positions, then he should say so."

On Sunday, Cruz was asked by NBC News twice on whether he would take legal status off the table in immigration talks.

"The focus of the press and the focus of the Democrats is always on those people who are currently here illegally," Cruz responded. "So my view is, first, we secure the border. We don't have to secure every aspect of immigration all at once."

MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin contributed to this report.

This story was originally posted on msnbc.com.

Related: Colorado mourns shooting victims:

19 PHOTOS
Colorado mourns Planned Parenthood shooting victims, officer Garrett Swasey
See Gallery
Cruz refocuses talk of shooting to 'vicious rhetoric on the left'
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 29: Tracy Gilliland cries while watching old video of Officer Garrett Swasey ice skating when he was younger at Hope Chapel on November 29, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood, was a church elder with the congregation and a large part of the community at the church. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 29: Churchgoers sing at the beginning of service at Hope Chapel on November 29, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood, was a church elder with the congregation and a large part of the community at the church. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 29: Hands wave in the air while churchgoers sing at Hope Chapel on November 29, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood, was a church elder with the congregation and a large part of the community at the church. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 29: Sarah Donteville hugs Kaitlin Churchill after service at Hope Chapel on November 29, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood, was a church elder with the congregation and a large part of the community at the church. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 29: Cambria Hooks starts laughing while crying after the congregation made jokes about Officer Garrett Swasey's ice skating at Hope Chapel on November 29, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Officer Garrett Swasey, who was killed in Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood, was a church elder with the congregation and a large part of the community at the church. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Colorado Springs, CO - NOV, 28: Officers stand on the court during a moment of silence and then the national anthem for Garrett Swasey before the start of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs basketball game on the campus in in Colorado Springs, CO on Saturday, November 28, 2015. (Photo by Matthew Staver/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs held a candlelight vigil at the Gallogly Events Center November 28, 2015 for UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey who was shot and killed along with two others at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic November 27, 2015. Several others were injured including five law enforcement officers. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: A moment of prayer during a vigil at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church November 28, 2015. More than one hundred people gathered in the church to remember fallen officer Garrett Swasey and two others who were killed as well as those injured. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs student Tori Lord during a candlelight vigil at the Gallogly Events Center November 28, 2015 for UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey who was shot and killed along with two others at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic November 27, 2015. Several others were injured including five law enforcement officers. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs held a candlelight vigil at the Gallogly Events Center November 28, 2015 for UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey who was shot and killed along with two others at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic November 27, 2015. Several others were injured including five law enforcement officers. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: Hundreds gather around the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Mountain Lion statue during a candlelight vigil at the Gallogly Events Center November 28, 2015 for UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey who was shot and killed along with two others at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic November 27, 2015. Several others were injured including five law enforcement officers. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: University of Colorado Colorado Springs student Isaac Brumm during a candlelight vigil out in front of the the Gallogly Events Center November 28, 2015 for UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey who was shot and killed along with two others at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic November 27, 2015. Several others were injured including five law enforcement officers. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: Show of support during a vigil at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs vigil inside the Gallogly Events Center November 28, 2015 for UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey who was shot and killed along with two others at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic November 27, 2015. Several others were injured including five law enforcement officers. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs held a candlelight vigil at the Gallogly Events Center November 28, 2015 for UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey who was shot and killed along with two others at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic November 27, 2015. Several others were injured including five law enforcement officers. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: Mary Hueske working as a floater for Colorado Planned Parenthood writes a letter to the families of those killed in Friday's shooting before a vigil at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church November 28, 2015. More than one hundred people gathered in the church to remember fallen officer Garrett Swasey and two others who were killed as well as those injured. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS,CO - November 28: A sign on a window at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Public Safety office on campus November 28, 2015 to honor of fallen police officer Garrett Swasey who was shot and killed during a shooting rampage at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic Friday November 27, 2015. Two other people were shot and killed and several others were injured including several Colorado Springs police officers. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 28: Roy Kieffer prays after laying flowers at a memorial at Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard on November 28, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Life in Colorado Springs attempts to go back to normal after the shooting that killed three people including one police officer that ended at a Planned Parenthood. Stores in the strip mall across from the Planned Parenthood have begun to reopen. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 28: Flowers are laid on the corner as a memorial at Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard on November 28, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Life in Colorado Springs attempts to go back to normal after the shooting that killed three people including one police officer that ended at a Planned Parenthood. Stores in the strip mall across from the Planned Parenthood have begun to reopen. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


More from NBC News:
Planned Parenthood Victim Ke'Arre Stewart Tried to Save Others
U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Warns Americans of 'Imminent Attack'
Winter Storm Targets Midwest, Plains Again; Some Brace for Foot of Snow

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

12 Facts That Will Make You Smarter Than Your Friends 12 Facts That Will Make You Smarter Than Your Friends
Nature Gets Revenge On Safari Hunter Who Killed Elephants And Lions For Sport Nature Gets Revenge On Safari Hunter Who Killed Elephants And Lions For Sport
Man Is Horrified To Learn His Biological Father's Identity - But A Look In The Mirror Man Is Horrified To Learn His Biological Father's Identity - But A Look In The Mirror