ANKENY, Iowa — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, accused GOP frontrunner billionaire Donald Trump of supporting the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill pushed through the U.S. Senate in 2013 by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Despite Cruz’s claim, several interviews and stories Trump did with Breitbart News at the time show he was fighting the “Gang of Eight” bill and called it a “death wish” for the GOP.
Listing various instances of battles against the permanent political class—calling each a different “time for choosing”—Cruz noted that one was the “battle over amnesty.” Cruz said:
We had in 2013, as well, an epic, knockdown drag-out battle on amnesty. President Obama and Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid and the Democrats joined up with establishment Republicans to try to pass a massive amnesty. The bill didn’t secure our borders, the bill expanded President Obama’s ability to bring in Syrian refugees without mandating background checks, and the bill would have granted amnesty to 12 million people here illegally. For everyone in this country, that was a time for choosing. On which side do you stand? There are individuals on that stage that answered that question and said, ‘I stand with Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama and I stand against the American [worker].’ I can tell you I was proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Iowa’s own Steve King and Jeff Sessions fighting to stop amnesty and secure the border and to keep this country safe.
Cruz continued by noting that the “leader” of the “Gang of Eight” was “my friend Marco Rubio.”
“He’s a good man, charming, but when he ran for Senate, he promised the people of Florida that ‘I will lead the fight against amnesty,’” Cruz said of Rubio. “That’s what he told voters. Then he came to Washington and immediately joined with Chuck Schumer in offering the Rubio-Schumer amnesty.”
Cruz continued by imploring voters to hold him accountable to his word, and noting correctly that he’s kept his promise to Texans to fight against amnesty. Everything up until that point was accurate on the amnesty point. But then Cruz claimed Trump backed the “Gang of Eight” bill. Cruz said, referring to Trump:
I would note as well there’s another candidate in this race who talks quite a bit about immigration—and everything else. Well, in 2013, the battle was being fought. If it is in fact the case that Mr. Trump opposes amnesty, one might ask where was he during that battle? I can tell you where he was: He was publicly at the time supporting amnesty, Tweeting out support for the ‘Gang of Eight.’ He was publicly at the time supporting Marco Rubio’s DREAMer legislation. He was publicly at the time criticizing Mitt Romney for being too tough on illegal immigration. Now, when it comes to amnesty, even today—listen, I like Donald Trump—he may say unpleasant things about me, and I have no intention of responding in kind. I do not intend to insult him.
The crowd went wild.
“And I respect the men and women here, the men and women of Iowa, too much—I don’t think you want or deserve to see politicians engaging in name-calling and insults,” Cruz said. “But I do think substance matters. I think record matters. I think issues matter.”
During the timeframe the “Gang of Eight” bill was moving through the committee process in the U.S. Senate, however—and before it was even introduced—in a series of interviews and stories with Breitbart News, Trump was very publicly opposed to the amnesty bill, fighting it from outside the U.S. Senate.
In one such interview, published on June 3, 2013, Trump called the bill a “death wish” for the GOP.
“I think you have a country, or you don’t have a country,” Trump told Breitbart News in that interview. “If you have a country, you have borders. And you either live with the fact that you have borders, or you don’t. Congress is going at jet speed to try and get something passed, and the Republicans better be careful, because anything that’s passed, as they [illegal immigrants] become voting citizens, they will only vote for Democrats.”
“So, you have 11 million people right now in this country illegally, as they start to vote they will be voting for the Democrats,” Trump added in that June 3, 2013, interview. “They will not be voting for the Republicans. The Republicans better be careful of their own death wish.”
In a previous story regarding his 2013 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland—months before Rubio and Schumer even introduced their bill—a Trump spokesman told Breitbart News that he was opposed to the forthcoming amnesty bill.
“Mr. Trump is very worried that the Republican Party has learned the wrong lessons from the 2012 defeat,” Trump’s spokesman told Breitbart News at the time. “He felt it was important to stress to the party leaders and faithful that immigration and entitlement reform should not be a top priority. If the Republicans are going to be successful, they must focus on the economy, jobs, OPEC, reining in China and our debt crisis.”