New York Times
By Maggie Haberman and Ashley Parker
January 12, 2016
Senator Marco Rubio is getting savaged on the topic of immigration reform, with ads from groups backing two of his rivals painting him as a flip-flopper and as overly close to President Obama and Senator Chuck Schumer.
The twin assaults reflect the changing dynamics of the Republican race now that Mr. Rubio is rising in the polls in early-voting states. The senator’s past work on immigration reform has left him exposed in a nominating contest in which conservatives are deeply skeptical of such efforts, with the new ads suggesting intensifying attacks on his record less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
The ad from the group backing Mr. Cruz is so far running only online, but it is potentially damaging to Mr. Rubio in how it uses his comments from 2013 — interspersed with those from Mr. Obama and Mr. Schumer — in describing both Mr. Rubio’s role in the effort and the bill itself.
It opens with Mr. Obama speaking behind a lectern, saying, “Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I proposed and campaigned on for the last few years.”
It later cuts to Mr. Schumer saying of Mr. Rubio, “His fingerprints are all over that bill.” At another point, when Mr. Schumer is asked if Mr. Rubio resisted putting a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the bill — a critical element that conservatives opposed — the Democratic senator from New York replied, “No, he understood it, he molded it, he made it.”
Kellyanne Conway, the president of Keep the Promise I, which is leading a string of allied super PACs backing Mr. Cruz, said that the “Gang of Eight amnesty deal was a pivotal point for senators to draw a line in the sand on their positions on the crucial issue of rewarding those who broke the law.”
The 2016 calendar is still fluid, with primary and caucus dates uncertain in more than a dozen states. Both parties are requiring all states but four to wait until March to hold their nominating contests or face delegate penalties.
Mr. Cruz, she added, helped to stop “the bill in its tracks.”
Meanwhile, the ad by the Right to Rise super PAC backing Mr. Bush aimed to paint Mr. Rubio as a “weather vane” for shifting his position from working on immigration reform to now stopping “amnesty” for those in the country illegally. But Mr. Bush is a proponent of immigration reform, making it delicate terrain for him.
“He ran for Senate saying he opposed amnesty,” says the narrator of the 30-second ad called “Vane,” which features Mr. Rubio atop a weather vane, swiveling back and forth. “Then he flipped, and worked with liberal Chuck Schumer to co-author the path to citizenship. He threatened to vote against it, and then voted for it.”
“Marco Rubio, just another Washington politician you can’t trust,” concludes the ad, which is airing in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The Rubio campaign has struck back at the ads.
“Both Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have changed their positions on immigration during this campaign,” said Alex Conant, a spokesman for Mr. Rubio. “Both supported helping illegal immigrants in the U.S. and then switched positions for political posturing. It’s sadly hypocritical for them to attack Marco, who has stood on principle and been honest about his position.”
Some Republican strategists said the circular firing squad can only help Donald J. Trump, who continues to lead most Republican polls nationally.
“I think Donald Trump is laughing all the way to his gold-plated bank today,” said Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist. “It seems that the mainstream establishment candidates are making sure this is the race none of them win.”
“This is the mutually assured destruction stage,” he added.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com