Now that Donald Trump has embraced a position on illegal immigration that is virtually indistinguishable from the “Gang of Eight” bill, after spending the primary season lying to GOP voters that he was tougher than Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio on illegal immigration, Cruz loyalists are calling Trump out for his mendacity and duplicity.
Remember this tweet from Trump?
Now Trump says he is open to “softening” the approach to some undocumented immigrants already in this country, as opposed to his primary season approach that included mass deportation. He has even praised his erstwhile targets, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, for their approach to illegal immigration; on Monday night, he said on Fox News, “What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country … Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing.”
Cruz’s former Senate communications director, Amanda Carpenter, blasted, “Everything Trump promises comes with an expiration date. We knew it during the primary, and now it is apparent he has duped his most loyal supporters on the issue they care about most, immigration. Don’t say we didn’t warn them.”
Chris Wilson, the director of research, analytics and digital strategy on Cruz’s campaign, said that Trump’s switcheroo would mitigate the anger some in the Republican Party aimed at Cruz for his GOP convention speech, saying, “It vindicates the speech, it vindicates what Ted Cruz warned would happen during the course of the campaign… I do think, yes, the immigration point is another data point that he was right, it’s another data point that leads people to understand Ted Cruz knew what he was talking about, he was making the right decision.” He added: “It’s a mistake by the Trump campaign; it seems to be this attitude that the way to win a presidential campaign is to follow the playbook the Republicans enacted over the last few cycles: move to the middle during the general election. It’s not the campaign Ted Cruz would have run. It’s why we said from the very beginning, to win a general election, we need to nominate a conservative.”
Rick Tyler, a former campaign communications director for Cruz, blistered Trump, asserting that Trump had conned the electorate: “From what I have seen, he is now the pro-amnesty candidate. If Trump is insistent on reversing himself on amnesty, then he will have fooled his entire base. He would have fooled enough people who voted for him to make him the Republican nominee. It’s deceitful; it was a betrayal.”
Steve Deace, the Iowa radio host who heartily supported Cruz and helped him win the Iowa caucuses: “What it bolsters is why some of Trump’s supporters felt the need to boo Ted Cruz when he told them to vote their conscience up and down the ballot, though he never mentioned Trump’s name. It … proves their own consciences knew when they were going against their belief system. It proves Ted Cruz was right not to waste political capital on a lost cause, the way some other people have in this campaign.”
“Everything Trump promises comes with an expiration date. We knew it during the primary …”
Ron Nehring, who was a spokesman for Cruz, fired off a series of tweets that encapsulated how many conservatives who suspected Trump from the beginning feel about Trump’s reversal: