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All in a day's work: Ted Cruz debates Ellen Page, blasts Jimmy Carter

The GOP presidential candidate debated actress Ellen Page on religious freedom vs. gay rights, while flipping burgers Friday at the Iowa State Fair. During the same event, he condemned the presidency of gravely ill Democrat Jimmy Carter.

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    Actress Ellen Page confronts Sen. Ted Cruz at the Iowa State Fair on Friday Aug. 21, 2015. According to an ABC News report, the "Juno" star came up to Cruz as he was grilling pork chops and asked him about discrimination against gay people in the workplace. Cruz responded that Christians were being persecuted for "living according to their faith."
    Todd J. Gillman / The Dallas Morning News via AP
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Republican presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz criticized former President Jimmy Carter's administration during a stump speech in Iowa, one day after Carter announced he was suffering from cancer that has spread to his brain.

Speaking on a political soapbox at the Iowa State Fair Friday, Cruz said there were parallels between the Obama and Carter administrations.

"I think the parallels between this administration and the Carter administration are uncanny. Same failed domestic policy, same misery, stagnation and malaise. Same feckless and naive foreign policy," Cruz said. "In fact, the exact same countries — Russia and Iran — openly laughing at and mocking the president of the United States."

Cruz then said the analogy gives him hope for the future because people "rose up and became the Reagan revolution."

Carter, the nation's 39th president, said Thursday that he is undergoing treatment for skin cancer that has spread to his liver and brain.

Asked if his remarks were appropriate in light of Carter's health, Cruz said he was talking about "the public policy of the Carter administration in the 1970s and it didn't work."

In June, Cruz apologized for making a joke about Vice President Joe Biden as Biden was mourning his son's death. Cruz used his Facebook account to say he was sorry, noting that "it was a mistake to use an old joke about Joe Biden during his time of grief, and I sincerely apologize."

Among the people questioning Cruz at the fair was actress Ellen Page. According to an ABC News report, the "Juno" star came up to Cruz as he was grilling pork chops and asked him about discrimination against gay people in the workplace.

Cruz responded that Christians were being persecuted for "living according to their faith."

The exchange lasted for several minutes as Cruz spoke about standing up for "religious liberty" and Page stressed the need for tolerance.

A publicist for Page told ABC that she was in Iowa for a project with Vice Media.

Cruz drew hundreds for his 20-minute appearance on the state fair soapbox, sponsored by the Des Moines Register. During his remarks, Cruz pledged to investigate Planned Parenthood, repeal Obama's health care law and "rip to shreds" the nuclear agreement with Iran.

On immigration, Cruz pledged to secure the borders and "end sanctuary cities."

Cruz has said the United States shouldn't automatically grant citizenship to children of immigrants in the country illegally. Speaking to reporters Friday, he avoided comment on the term "anchor babies," which some immigrants consider derogatory. Republican front-runner Donald Trump has used the expression in his comments on immigration, talking about pregnant mothers who cross the border to have children who then gain U.S. citizenship.

"What I find objectionable is the fact that our border is unsecured, that we do not know who is coming into this country and who isn't coming into this country and that the Obama administration is releasing violent criminal illegal aliens," Cruz said.

Cruz was set to hold a "Rally for Religious Liberty" in Des Moines Friday night.

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