The Rubio-Cruz War Has Begun

And the gloves are coming off.

Max Whittaker/New York Times/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


The simmering tension between Republican presidential rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz has finally bubbled over.

On Tuesday morning, top advisers to each candidate pounded the other with the best ammunition at their disposal. The Rubio campaign slammed Cruz for a weak national security record, while a pro-Cruz group unveiled a vicious ad targeting Rubio on the issue that could become his greatest weakness in the Republican primary: immigration.

 

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, Rubio criticized Cruz for supporting the USA Freedom Act, a bill that limited the government’s bulk data collection efforts that began after the September 11, 2001, attacks. “At least two of my colleagues in the Senate aspiring to be president, Sen. Cruz in particular, have voted to weaken the U.S. intelligence program,” Rubio said. Alex Conant, a campaign spokesman, pushed the point on Twitter Tuesday, tying the vote to Democrats including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama.

So the Cruz campaign took to Twitter to defend its boss’s vote. Brian Phillips, who runs Cruz’s rapid response operation, pointed out that a number of Rubio supporters also voted for the USA Freedom Act.

Team Cruz quickly pivoted to the issue of immigration, its main line of attack on Rubio for his work on the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Cruz’s campaign has been slowly ramping up its criticism of Rubio for his work on immigration in the past week. It clearly believes that Rubio’s work on immigration reform is his main vulnerability.

Although Rubio and Cruz are considered to be in different “lanes” in the primary—Rubio has the support of many establishment Republicans, while the party’s most conservative wing favors Cruz—they now lead polls among candidates with governing experience and are trying to win over voters seeking a more viable and experienced Republican nominee than Donald Trump or Ben Carson. Many observers believe that the race will ultimately come down to the two senators.

A new super-PAC backing Cruz has escalated the feud by hammering Rubio over the immigration issue. With the four super-PACs that support Cruz holding back from investing their $38 million fundraising haul in ads this fall (to the chagrin of the Cruz campaign), a new pro-Cruz super-PAC sprang up to show the others how to support the senator’s candidacy. The Courageous Conservatives PAC, whose treasurer is a close associate of Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, released its third radio ad Tuesday. The ad pounds Rubio for his work on immigration reform in the strongest terms possible, accusing the Floridian of scheming with President Obama to give “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants and thwart Cruz’s efforts to secure the border.

“When Marco Rubio teamed up with John McCain, Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, and Bob Menendez to push his Gang of Eight Amnesty scheme, he said he wanted to secure the border,” the narrator says. “But then Rubio voted against every border security amendment Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions proposed. Every one.”

The narrator twists the knife at the end. “Marco Rubio betrayed our trust, failed us, and he’s done nothing since coming to Washington but push for amnesty.”

The ad will run for a week on radio in Iowa with a $15,000 buy, according to Rick Shaftan, a spokesman for the group. Shaftan says the super-PAC is ready to go with another $15,000 airtime purchase for a new ad after Thanksgiving. A spokesman for Rubio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate