On Thursday night, just days before the Iowa caucuses, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush stood on the debate stage tussling over who had the stronger stance on immigration. The issue provided the signature moment of a debate that Donald Trump skipped—a mark of how profoundly Trump’s candidacy has shifted the discussion of immigration.
Fox News, in an unprecedented move, prepared footage of the candidates’ reversals on the issue, asking them to explain their inconsistencies. First up was Marco Rubio. In 2013, the Florida senator sponsored the “Gang of Eight” bill, a reform package that included a path to citizenship for some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. Rubio has since reversed his stance and has said that he opposes amnesty. On Thursday night, Bush said Rubio had decided to “cut and run because it wasn’t popular.” Rubio quipped that Bush had also supported a path to citizenship, referring to a book Bush wrote on immigration. To which the former Florida governor shot back, “so did you.”
Next up were clips of Cruz on the Senate floor proposing to add an amendment to the Gang of Eight immigration-reform bill. Cruz argues that the amendment was meant to kill the bill. Rand Paul didn’t buy it, accusing Cruz of hypocrisy. “What is particularly insulting, though, is that he is kind of saying, ‘Oh, you’re for amnesty.’ Everybody is for amnesty but Ted Cruz. But it’s a falseness,” adding “that’s an authenticity problem, that everybody he knows is not as perfect as him.”