Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday squared off with Fox News anchor Bret Baier over comments Cruz made in 2013 as the Senate considered an immigration reform bill.
Baier began the interview by repeating what Cruz said on the subject during Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate: “I’ve never supported legalization, I do not intend to support it.”
The anchor then played a speech Cruz made in 2013 promoting his amendment to an immigration reform measure in which he called on “people of good faith on both sides of the aisle” to pass a bill “that allows those that are here illegally to come in out of the shadows.”
Asked to respond to the clip, Cruz said his amendment would “remove citizenship.”
“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 bill,” he added.
But Baier replied with a series of statements Cruz made in 2013 that indicated he wanted the rest of the bill to pass. He quoted the Texas Republican calling the legislation “the compromise that can pass” and saying “if my amendment were adopted, this bill would pass.”
Cruz stammered in his response, saying that “of course I wanted my amendment to pass. ... It doesn’t mean I supported other aspects of the bill.”
Apparently, the Rubio campaign is doing a good job of oppo.
In October, Alex Leary wrote at The Tampa Bay Times:
For now, Republican candidates not named Donald Trump are hesitant to publicly attack each other, but don’t kid yourself: Behind the scenes they are striving to undercut rivals, mining voting and policy records, tracking every campaign appearance and interview, then shopping tidbits to reporters.
“No fingerprints,” reads the standard disclaimer from one sleepless operative.
Consider it the cold war before the field narrows and combat spills into the open.
Several presidential campaigns have in-house “oppo” teams while others outsource work to affiliated super PACs. ...
“A lot of people, when they think of oppo research, think there are these guys who are employed in Dumpster diving, looking for the nefarious information. More often than not, that’s not true,” said Joe Pounder, president of America Rising, a Republican research outfit formed in 2013.
The well-funded group is not officially working for any of the Republican presidential candidates but is focusing on Clinton and other Democrats, including those competing in Florida’s U.S. Senate race.
Technology continues to provide more material and opportunity. Many campaign events are now live-streamed on the Internet and oppo crews, usually, can quickly make video clips to post on YouTube under bogus names. Those videos often get placed on news sites, especially blogs. Failing that, the “hits” can catch on Twitter, building a story line.
That same speed has made it essential for campaigns to be ready with a counter response.
“All of a sudden what someone says in New Hampshire about you is resonating in Iowa,” Pounder said. “You need people on your campaign who can address it and put out the correct information.”Pounder is now working for Rubio. Leary writes today:
“Immigration flip-flopping puts Ted Cruz on the defensive,” read a tweet this morning from Alex Conant, Rubio’s top campaign spokesman, with a link to a Guardian story.
“A visibly shaken Cruz said on Fox News Wednesday,” wrote Joe Pounder, Rubio’s oppo-research director, quoting from a Time story on the Rubio-Cruz showdown.
Cruz has waffled. In the past he sounded like he supported legalization of some unauthorized immigrants. He now claims it was a “poison pill” to undermine Rubio’s Gang of 8 bill. Cruz looked deflated after a Fox News interview yesterday in which he stammered and tried to explain away his position.
“In this campaign, he is looking for a political advantage so he tries to obscure the lines on it,” Rubio said on Fox News last night.