Wow. If you missed tonight’s two CNN debates, you missed two great debates. Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash show very little if any liberal bias, and the most biased moderator was actually the moderate RINO Hugh Hewitt. Substance, substance, substance.
Let’s look at the two biggest clashes of the night, both between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Cruz vs Rubio on amnesty and border security
The Washington Examiner was the most interesting exchange of the night between Cruz and Rubio, about Rubio’s past support for amnesty.
Ted Cruz continued his fight with Marco Rubio over immigration and the Florida senator’s initial support of the Gang of Eight bill, which died in 2013.
The Texas senator told CNN’s Dana Bash that “border security is national security.”
“He has attempted to muddy the waters,” Cruz said of Rubio. “But I think that anyone who watched the battle that we had. … There was a time for choosing, as Reagan put it, where there was a battle over amnesty, and some chose to stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and support a massive amnesty plan. Others chose to stand with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and the American people and secure the border.”
Cruz then pivoted to tie the immigration issue to national security, arguing that the proposed immigration plan in 2013 had inadequate vetting, including the lack of mandated background checks for those entering the country.
“This issue is directly connected to what we’ve been talking about because he front line with ISIS isn’t just in Iraq and Syria, it’s in Kennedy Airport and the Rio Grande,” Cruz said. “Border security is national security, and one of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight bill is it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees, without mandating any background checks whatsoever. Now we have seen what happened in San Bernardino when you are letting people in and the FBI can’t vet them, it puts American citizens at risk.
“I tell you if i’m elected president, we will secure the border. We will triple the border patrol,” Cruz said. “We will build a wall that works and I’ll get Donald Trump to pay for it.”
I have the video clip (7 minutes):
You can hear Fiorina trying to jump in there, and I think she hurt herself quite a bit in the debate with her frequent interruptions. Yes, she is well-informed on foreign policy, but no, interruptions did not make her look presidential.
Now, Rubio did try to attack Cruz, claiming that he supported amnesty, and Cruz said that it was false. Who is right?
According to Andrew C. McCarthy in National Review, Cruz is right, and Rubio is lying:
Cruz has cast himself as the Republican field’s most consistent voice against “amnesty” for illegal aliens. Yet Rubio, with an assist from former Senator Rick Santorum, claims that Cruz has actually advocated granting legal status to illegal aliens.
Taken out of context, the charge seems colorable. But under the circumstances as they actually occurred, the proposal Cruz made was a case of intelligent legislating designed to expose the fraudulence of the pro-amnesty position. It was, in this way, reminiscent of smart legislating by Rubio (and, for that matter, by Cruz) that highlighted the folly of President Obama’s Iran deal.
He explains the whole story in the article, and concludes:
Cruz’s objective was to illustrate the fraudulence of the “out of the shadows” blather. Obviously, if the Gang of Eight had been sincere, a grant of limited legal status would have accomplished their purported humanitarian objective. But Cruz knew the Left would bitterly object, revealing that the true “comprehensive immigration reform” agenda was to mint new Democratic voters.
Indeed, Cruz made clear in proposing his amendment that the Gang of Eight would betray millions of legal immigrants who sought U.S. citizenship properly and that it therefore undermined the rule of law. And as the amnesty-friendly Huffington Post reported at the time, the point of Cruz’s amendment was to “take away one of [the Gang of Eight bill’s] central purposes: giving a pathway to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants.”
It is thus remarkable to find Rubio, of all people, depicting Cruz as an amnesty supporter because of Cruz’s attempt to expose the Democratic agenda that Rubio, whether out of naïveté or opportunism, was then promoting.
The troubling thing is that Rubio is lying about this in televised ads, which I think justifies my decision to drop him off my list of acceptable candidates for me. He is conservative on many other things, but when you take his liberal policies and add it to these lies about Cruz, he should not be elected President.
Cruz vs Rubio on the Obama-Clinton invasion of Libya
And here is is Cruz attacking Rubio on his support for the Obama administration’s interventions in Libya:
I supported a boots-on-the-ground invasion and occupation of Syria to remove Assad when he crossed the red line. But Libya was a huge mistake that did more harm than good, and Rubio should not have supported the Obama-Clinton plan to invade Libya. I like projecting American military power and punishing evil, but not in Libya and not in Egypt. I disagree with Cruz on Syria, as he did not want to topple Assad. That would have been a huge win for us against Iran, which is the real power behind Syria – and Hezbollah, too. But that’s a minor disagreement compared to the foul-up in Libya.
Cruz vs Rubio on defense spending
I could not find the video clip for Rubio’s charge that Cruz did not vote for some defense spending bills, but this piece by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard has more details about it. Those charges are damaging, but it turns out that Cruz is innocent of Rubio’s charges. First of all, both Cruz and Rubio voted against those bills, according to Yahoo News. Lindsay, who I often link to on this blog, is a huge Cruz supporter, and she found an article in the Washington Free Beacon that clears Cruz of the charge of being an isolationist:
Rubio said that Cruz’s votes against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would defund programs vital to the security of the U.S. and its allies. Cruz was one of only two senators, along with libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), to oppose that defense bill in October.
“Three times he voted against the National Defense Authorization Act, which is a bill that funds the troops. It also, by the way, funds Iron Dome and other important programs,” Rubio said, referring to Israel’s air defense platform, which is supported with financial aid from the U.S.
Cruz responded that he opposed the NDAA to fulfill a campaign promise about indefinite detention.
“I voted against the National Defense Authorization Act because when I campaigned in Texas, I told voters in Texas that I would oppose the federal government having the authority to detain U.S. citizens permanently with no due process,” Cruz said.
Rubio responded that individuals who wage war against the U.S. forfeit the constitutional protections of civilians.
“If you’re an American citizen and you decide to join up with ISIS, we’re not going to read you your Miranda rights. You’re going to be treated as an enemy combatant—a member of an army attacking this country,” Rubio said.
While the candidates feuded over civil liberties, both expressed willingness to project power abroad.
“Radical Islamic terrorism will face no more determined foe than I will be,” Cruz said.
“We are the most powerful nation in the world. We need to begin to act like it again,” Rubio said.
However, Cruz introduced an amendment to the NDAA defense spending bill to remove the part about indefinite detention, so that he could go ahead and vote for the rest of the bill:
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), both of whom are running for president, have joined up with other senators to introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), currently before the Senate, that would ban indefinite detention of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, without being charged or given a trial, unless authorized by Congress.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also put their names on the provision.
“The Constitution does not allow President Obama, or any President, to apprehend an American citizen, arrested on U.S. soil, and detain these citizens indefinitely without a trial,” Cruz said in a statement. “While we must vigorously protect national security by pursuing violent terrorists and preventing acts of terror, we must also ensure our most basic rights as American citizens are protected.”
The amendment had bi-partisan support, but it did not pass – that’s why Cruz voted against the bill. At least he tried to fix it so that he could vote for it while respecting the wishes of his constituents. I thought he came across as informed and hawkish in the debate on Tuesday night, which works for me, although I am all for the Patriot Act and collection of bulk data.
So it turns out that Cruz’s attitude towards Rubio’s dishonest attacks was warranted, and it falls to me to do the investigating that shows who was right and who was wrong. Cruz comes out of the debate squeaky clean, and Rubio comes out looking dirty.