US Senators Ted Cruz, Texas and Marco Rubio, Florida and both Cuban immigrants found plenty of opportunities to draw attention to themselves and add to their opponents camp pains contrasts.
Rubio: “We will have to work around the world with less than ideal governments. The government in Saudi Arabia is not a democracy, but we will have to work with them … But anti-American dictators like Assad. If they go I will not shed a tear.”
Cruz: “It’s more than not shedding a tear. It’s actively getting involved to help topple a government.” Cruz added that it was misguided to think the U.S. could find credible local partners for regime change in the Middle East: “It’s a like a purple unicorn. They never exist, these moderate rebels.”
Rubio and his campaign have been hammering Cruz's vote against a National Security Agency phone-metadata collection program. Rubio kept it up Tuesday night, saying, “We need more tools, not less tools” to fight terrorism right now.
Cruz countered that NSA surveillance is now stronger as a result of his votes, and that Rubio’s attack was disingenuous. “Marco knows what he’s saying isn’t true," Cruz shot back. "They are Alinsky-like attacks like Barack Obama.”
The moderators then let Rubio step back in, to cheers from the crowd. “I don’t think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information. … The next time there is an attack on this country the first thing we’re going to want to know is why didn’t we know about it and why didn’t we stop it?”
After moderator Dana Bash asked Rubio repeatedly if he supported an eventual path to citizenship for immigrants currently in the U.S. illegally, Rubio turned the question on Cruz. Rubio: “Ted, you supported legalizing people who are here illegally.”
Cruz: “I understand that Marco wants to raise confusion. It is not accurate … I led the fight against his legal citizenship and amnesty bill … he was fighting to grant amnesty and to not secure the border.” Rubio fired back that Cruz wanted massive increases in certain types of visas.
Cruz: “I’ve laid out a very, very detailed immigration plan on my website … you stop the Obama administration’s policy of releasing criminal illegal aliens … we can enforce the laws and if we secure the border that solves the problem.” Neither definitively answered Bash's specific questions about their immigration positions
TED vs MARCO: