From the Thursday Morning Jolt:
Does Ted Cruz’s Slipperiness Matter?
There is an easy way to conclude Ted Cruz didn’t lie on the debate stage Tuesday night; conclude that he lied throughout the spring of 2013. The problem with posing as a bill supporter in an effort to insert a poison bill – and performing the role with great passion, at great length, in front of many audiences – is that afterwards, people may not be so convinced that it was all an act.
Professor Robert George: The disagreement is about whether they should be granted citizenship, through some mechanism, through some process, not whether they should be moved from illegal status to legal status?
Cruz: The amendment I introduced affected only citizenship; it did not affect the underlying legalization in the Gang of Eight bill.
George: Would your bill pass the House, or would it be killed because it was proposing ‘amnesty’?
Cruz: I believe that if my amendments were adopted, the bill would pass. My effort in introducing them was to find solution that reflected common ground and fixed the problem.
Both then and now, Cruz is one notch to the restrictionist side of Marco Rubio. Rubio supported a Gang of Eight bill that included a path to citizenship; Cruz wanted a path to legalization. Now Rubio wants an eventual path to legalization; Cruz opposes it.
(One of the arguments against a path to legalization is that once it’s enacted, the goalposts will move; the Left will claim that the 11 million new legal permanent residents are second-class citizens and denied the rights of their ‘fellow Americans.’ Legal status is just a technicality in their minds; Obama declared the DREAMers “are American by any other name except for their legal papers.” Cruz proved his point about the Democrats’ real priorities with his amendment. They see immigration reform as a way to find a big box of 11 million new voters under their Winter Solstice tree.)
But Rubio can fairly point out that Cruz ripping him over a path to legalization is like Obama ripping gay-marriage critics. You’re denouncing people for holding the same opinion you held just a few years ago.
Here’s Cruz, explaining himself to Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier last night:
BAIER: One of the big back-and-forth moments between you and Senator Marco Rubio was on immigration. Many people said you scored some points against Marco Rubio there. You also said though, and it has been checked today, at the debate, that you denied that you’ve ever supported legal status for undocumented immigrants. You said quote, I’ve never supported illegal immigration. But back in 2013 you did support an amendment and back when you were making the case, this is what you said.
CRUZ: I don’t want immigration reform to fail. I want immigration reform to pass. And so I would urge people of good faith on both sides of the aisle, if the objective is, to pass common-sense immigration reform, that secures the borders, that improves legal immigration and that allows those illegally to come in out of the shadows, then we should look for areas of bipartisan agreement and compromise to come together.
BAIER: Now that amendment would have allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. permanently and obtain legal status. So how do you square that circle?
CRUZ: Actually, Brett, it wouldn’t have. What was happening there is that was the battle over the Gang of Eight, the Rubio/Schumer amnesty bill, which was a massive amnesty bill proposed by Senator Rubio, by Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama and I was leading the fight against amnesty. I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Jeff Sessions, I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Steve King. Leading the fight to secure the borders and what I did in that amendment was an amendment I introduced to remove citizenship to say those who are here illegally shall be permanently ineligible for citizenship. Now the fact that I introduced an amendment to remove part of the Gang of Eight bill doesn’t mean I support the rest of the Gang of Eight bills. The Gang of Eight bills was a mess. It was a terrible bill –
BAIER: That’s not what you said –
CRUZ: The Rubio campaign is trying to claim, ‘gosh –
BAIER: That’s not what you said at the time. Yahoo dug up these quotes, saying ‘if this amendment were to pass, the chance of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically.’ A few weeks later during a debate on the Senate floor Cruz repeated his belief that ‘this amendment is the compromise that can pass.’ And you repeated later in Princeton that ‘if my amendment were adopted, this bill would pass.’ It sounds like you wanted the bill to pass.
CRUZ: Of course, I wanted the bill to pass, my amendment to pass. What my amendment did-
BAIER: You said the bill.
CRUZ: What my amendment did is take citizenship off the table. What it doesn’t mean, what it doesn’t mean is that that I supported the other aspects of the bill, which was a terrible bill and Brett, you’ve been around Washington long enough, you know how to defeat bad legislation, which is what that amendment did, is it revealed the hypocrisy of Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats and the establishment Republicans who were supporting it because they all voted against it. And listen I’ll give you the simplest proof why this notion that my fighting amnesty, somehow made me a supporter of amnesty — Jeff Sessions voted with me on my amendment to eliminate citizenship. Now is anyone remotely suggesting that Jeff Sessions support amnesty?
BAIER: Of course not. The problem, though, Senator–
CRUZ: We were fighting side by side to defeat Marco Rubio’s amnesty and we succeeded, we defeated it.
BAIER: The problem is at the time you were telling people like Byron York with the Washington Examiner that this was not a poison pill. You said ‘my objective is not to kill immigration reform.’ You said you wanted it to pass at the time. So my question to you is, looking back at what you said then and what oar saying now, which one should people believe?
CRUZ: What the amendments I introduced, I introduced five amendments, a whole series of amendments, what they did is they illustrated the hypocrisy of the Democrats. They showed it was a partisan effort and they succeeded in defeating the Rubio/Schumer amnesty bill.
Some are asking why make a big deal about Cruz’s slipperiness here; surely no one thinks he’s a closet amnesty supporter. Surely, Rubio offered a bigger and more consequential lie while defending the Gang of Eight bill in April 2013: “What I said throughout my campaign was that I was against a blanket amnesty. And I was, and this is not blanket amnesty,” (No, he didn’t add the ‘blanket’ qualifier at any point in his 2010 Senate campaign.)
It’s like, “I didn’t have an involvement with Mannatech… It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of a relationship with them” or “I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down… It was on television. I saw it” or touting “the power and value of the Constitution” while giving a “Liberty medal” to Hillary Clinton.