After Donald Trump’s consecutive wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, the growing consensus among establishment Republicans seems to be that only [score]Marco Rubio[/score] can defeat the business mogul. Additionally, it appears that the donors who poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Jeb Bush’s failed campaign are jumping to Rubio. No surprises there; the establishment is going to support the candidate that best matches their agenda, and now that Bush is gone, it’s Rubio or…John Kasich. Need I say more? What does surprise me is that we’re beginning to see the voters shift to Rubio as well.
The results in South Carolina and Nevada show [score]Marco Rubio[/score] gaining ground among voters, while [score]Ted Cruz[/score] loses steam. Watching the Nevada results come in on Fox News, they talked about entrance polls. Martha MacCallum noted that according to voters for whom immigration was a priority, Trump held a wide lead, Cruz was second, and Rubio was third. Despite his third place status, Rubio still had a decent chunk of those voters. It blew my mind.
Over the last week, it appears that Trump’s and Rubio’s repeated accusations that Cruz is “a liar” are beginning to stick. It’s all middling things–the ridiculous Carson hubbub in Iowa in which Cruz had no part, and the Rubio video controversy in which Cruz also had no part. Trump and Rubio have used these small instances to paint Ted Cruz as some kind of pathological liar.
During the CBS debate, Rubio said:
“The bottom line is, there’s been this disturbing pattern the last couple of weeks of Ted Cruz saying things that are not true…Of course he lied about Ben Carson in Iowa…”
During a rally in Nevada Monday, Trump said:
“This guy is sick. There’s something wrong with this guy…They don’t want to vote for a liar.”
While Ted Cruz is being beaten down with trifling and often unverified attacks regarding his trustworthiness, Trump and Rubio have recorded histories of lying or flip-flopping on a major issue: Amnesty.
In 2009, when Marco Rubio was running for senate, he was interviewed by conservative blogger Javier Manjarres, who asked him if he was “pro-amnesty.” Rubio replied:
“No, no. Never have been. In fact, I’m strongly against amnesty for a number of different reasons. The first is, I always use the example of the speed limit. If you say the speed limit is 70, but you don’t ticket people until they reach 80, well then the speed limit is really 80, it’s not 70. Amnesty is the same thing. 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 your existing laws if you reward people who broke them.”
In another 2009 interview, Rubio said:
“You cannot grant amnesty. If you grant amnesty, you will send a message that all you have to do is come into America illegally, stay here long enough, and we will let you stay…In fact in ’86 when Reagan created an amnesty program, about 3 million people were granted amnesty. The result was that you had a bunch of people standing in line to enter legally who all claimed to be illegal because it was easier to get through the amnesty program. So we can’t have amnesty.”
In 2010, Rubio told Candy Crowley:
“First of all, [an] earned path to citizenship is basically code for amnesty. It’s what they call it…It is unfair to the people that have legally entered this country to create an alternative pathway for individuals who entered illegally and knowingly did so.”
Then in 2013, Rubio was the Republican face of the so-called “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration reform bill, which granted amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Rubio’s best explanation for promoting the Gang of Eight legislation is weak at best. In the Fox News debate in January, Megyn Kelly confronted Rubio about his amnesty flip-flop. Rubio defended himself by arguing that the Gang of Eight legislation only granted amnesty after several hurdles were overcome, whereas previous efforts from the senate offered very few hurdles. He called these previous efforts “blanket amnesty.”
All of this has led me to deeply distrust [score]Marco Rubio[/score]. The question I ask myself is this: If he’ll lie about something as massive as amnesty, what won’t he lie about?
Trump is as bad, if not worse. As recently as 2012, Trump seemed to strongly support amnesty.
During an interview on Fox News in June 2012, Trump said:
“For people that have been here for years that have been hard-workers, have good jobs, they’re supporting their family–it’s very, very tough to just say ‘By the way, 22 years, you have to leave. Get out’…I’m one of the world’s very conservative people, but I have to tell you on a human basis, how do you throw somebody out that’s lived in this country for twenty years.”
Trump also called Mitt Romney’s self-deportation plan “maniacal.”
Interestingly enough, when opposing amnesty became the cause celebre among conservatives, and Trump wanted to run for president, he shifted his views dramatically, as we’ve seen this entire cycle.
Just like [score]Marco Rubio[/score], Donald Trump did a backflip on amnesty when it was politically expedient to do so.
Given this, I have a question for the conservative voters who are coalescing around [score]Marco Rubio[/score], and Donald Trump: Can you trust these men after they so obviously flip-flopped on an issue as critical as amnesty? Depending on your answer, I’d ask the following question: If you can’t trust Rubio or Trump, who can you trust instead?