By Ali Breland
January 6, 2016
Donald Trump opened a new front in his incipient war on Ted Cruz late on Wednesday, accusing the Texas senator of supporting “amnesty” for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
“Ted was in favor of amnesty,” Trump told host Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”
“Him and Marco Rubio have been fighting about who’s weaker,” he continued after Blitzer noted Cruz’s claim that he was stronger than the real-estate mogul on immigration issues.
Trump went on to knock Cruz for “taking my idea for the wall,” repeating a complaint he has aired every day this week.
“I’m glad he’s taking my idea. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Trump went on. “These people who are politicians don’t know how to build walls. They don’t know how to build anything.”
“All of a sudden, they’re trying to get into my territory,” Trump groused.
The exchange comes on a day of political news dominated by Trump’s suggestion that Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother, may not be legally eligible to be president.
Cruz scoffed at the implication, dismissing the flap as a “silly circus sideshow debate about things that are not consequential” and citing legal scholarship finding that children of U.S. citizens born abroad qualify as “natural born citizens” under most interpretations of the Constitution.
But Cruz found a way to strike back at Trump later in the day, telling ABC News “my record is stronger than his” and highlighting his “proven record as a fiscal conservative, as a social conservative, as a national security conservative” — drawing an implicit contrast to Trump’s past liberal leanings.
In December, under fire from Rubio, Cruz denied ever supporting citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. “My position is very simple: I oppose amnesty. I oppose citizenship. I oppose legalization … Today, tomorrow, forever. I believe in the rule of law,” he said.
Cruz has since sought to outflank his GOP rivals on the issue, playing up his support from immigration hard-liners such as Iowa Rep. Steve King and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and firing off attacks of his own.
“Look, there’s a difference,” he told a reporter in Iowa on Tuesday, referring to Trump. “He’s advocated allowing folks to come back in and become citizens. I oppose that.”
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