Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has now labeled Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) a liar. He’s picking up that line of attack from Donald Trump, who has similarly labeled Cruz “the single biggest liar I’ve ever come across, in politics or otherwise.” The goal: to discredit Cruz among conservatives and Evangelical voters by calling into question his honesty. Thus far, Trump has beaten Cruz about the ears with dubious charges of election fraud in Iowa and similarly dubious accusations about Cruz mischaracterizing his record.
Now Rubio’s joined the game.
On Sunday, Rubio said that Cruz’s critique of Rubio’s immigration record was “a lie. When you say something that’s not true, it’s called a lie. That’s the definition of it. On this campaign, he is saying things that are not true, and he’s saying it repeatedly, and he knows they’re not true.” More specifically, Rubio referred to Cruz’s accusation at Saturday night’s debate that Rubio had endorsed President Obama’s executive amnesty in Spanish on Univision. Rubio told Cruz he didn’t even speak Spanish. On Sunday, he told CNN, “He has no idea. He’s just going off what other people are telling him, and it’s false. It’s just not true.” He added, “I was there two, three years ago, when he was passionately arguing at the committee that we needed to pass immigration reform and needed to bring people out of the shadows. I think this pattern of saying things that aren’t true has become very disturbing when it comes to Ted Cruz’s campaign.”
Here’s what Cruz said in the last debate about Rubio’s immigration record: “Marco right now supports citizenship for 12 million people here illegally. I oppose citizenship…Marco has a long record when it comes to amnesty. In the state of Florida, as Speaker of the House, he supported in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. In addition to that, Marco went on Univision in Spanish and said he would not rescind President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on his first day in office.”
So, let’s look at Marco Rubio’s immigration position. Or positions. All 1,167 of them.
Rubio’s Senate Run. Rubio supported a Florida version of the DREAM Act, which granted in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. During his Senate run in 2010, Rubio swiveled on illegal immigration and became a strong proponent of border enforcement. He said:
I am strongly against amnesty. The most important thing we need to do is enforce our existing laws. We have existing immigration laws that are not being adequately enforced. Nothing will make it harder to enforce the existing laws, if you reward people who broke them….I am not, and I will never support any effort to grant blanket legalization/amnesty to folks who have entered, stayed in this country illegally.
The Gang of Eight. The Gang of Eight immigration bill set forth a process by which millions of illegal immigrants would be given a pathway to citizenship; it authorized spending with no guarantee of border security; it allowed government services for those granted amnesty. Rubio eventually dropped his support for the bill when it became clear that he’d suffer significant political damage for supporting it. Now, of course, Rubio says the Gang of Eight bill was never meant to pass. “The Senate immigration law was not headed towards becoming law,” he said yesterday. “Ideally, it was headed towards the House, where conservative members of the House were going to make it even better.” This is not what Rubio has said in the past, when he called it a “good piece of legislation” that Republicans in the House should “take a look at.”
Rubio Now. So, where does Rubio stand now? Who the hell knows?
In April 2015, Rubio said of President Obama’s executive amnesty, “I’ve always said that eventually that will not be the permanent policy of the United States…I hope it comes to an end because we’ve improved our immigration laws, we’ve improved the way we enforce our immigration laws.”
That same month, he told Univision, “I wouldn’t undo [DACA] immediately. The reason is that there are already people who have that permission, whoa re working, who are studying, and I don’t think it would be fair to cancel it suddenly. But I do think it is going to have to end. And, God willing, it’s going to end because immigration reform is going to pass…I don’t think we can immediately revoke that…I’m not calling for it to be revoked tomorrow, or this week, or right away.”
In June 2015, he said he does support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants – but only after lawmakers “prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control.”
In November 2015, Rubio said he supports allowing illegal immigrants to apply for a green card, which would make them eligible to apply for citizenship.
So Rubio calling Cruz a liar here is ridiculous. Rubio’s been all over the place on immigration, to put it mildly. Perhaps the idea is that you take all positions so that you can then call anyone who pins you down to one of those positions a liar. If so, that’s a cynical play, and says much more about Rubio than anyone who opposes him on the basis of illegal immigration.