BEAUMONT — Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz hit some of his main stump points while meeting with local leaders here Tuesday afternoon — promising to defend the Constitution, step back from the Obama administration's foreign policy and promote economic growth.

Then Texas' junior Republican U.S. senator, visiting Beaumont to meet privately with county officials and others, got in a light sparring round with reporters, mainly working on his attacks on Hillary Clinton and defending his views on same-sex marriage. 

"Is there something about the left — and I am going to put the media in this category — that is obsessed with sex?” Cruz asked after fielding multiple questions on gay rights. “ISIS is executing homosexuals — you want to talk about gay rights? This week was a very bad week for gay rights because the expansion of ISIS, the expansion of radical, theocratic, Islamic zealots that crucify Christians, that behead children and that murder homosexuals — that ought to be concerning you far more than asking six questions all on the same topic.” 

Cruz also said he did not think his opposition to gay marriage will hurt his chances with moderate voters.

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“With respect, I would suggest not drawing your questions from MSNBC. They have very few viewers and they are a radical and extreme partisan outlet,” Cruz told a reporter. He cited the expansion of “mandatory same-sex marriage” as an assault on religious liberty in the United States.

Cruz also got in a jab at Clinton for her use of a personal email while she was the U.S. secretary of state. 

“Unfortunately this pattern of deception is what we’ve come to expect from the Clintons,” Cruz said. “I think what’s most surprising is how unsurprising this is.”

Cruz again declined to say whether he would participate in the Iowa Straw Poll later this year. Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry have both remained noncommittal on the poll. 

“I am spending a great deal of time in Iowa, and I intend to spend a great deal of time in Iowa and participate vigorously in the Iowa caucus,” Cruz said. “A number of candidates and a number of campaigns are making decisions on the straw poll right now, and we’re certainly making those decisions at the same time.”