Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was confronted by a Fox News Channel host Wednesday over previous comments he had previously made in favor of legalizing individuals who are in the U.S. illegally.
The line of questioning was prompted by an exchange over immigration Cruz had with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at Tuesday night's GOP debate.
"Special Report" host Bret Baier played a 2013 clip of Cruz introducing an amendment that would have stripped out a proposal for a pathway to citizenship from the gang of eight's so-called "amnesty" bill. Cruz boasted at the time his amendment would have allowed illegal immigrants to remain in the country legally.
"They would still be eligible for legal status and indeed, under the terms of the bill, they would be eligible for LPR [Lawful Permanent Resident] status as well so that they are out of the shadows, which the proponents of this bill repeatedly point to as their principal objective, to provide a legal status for those who are here illegally to be out of the shadows," Cruz said at the time.
After playing the video of Cruz introducing the amendment, Baier pressed Cruz on how he would "square this circle."
Cruz replied and noted that his amendment would have stripped citizenship from the legislation and said that even if it did pass, he wouldn't have necessarily supported the bill.
"Well, wait a second senator. That is not what you said at the time," Baier said. "That is not what you said at the time."
Baier read a number of remarks Cruz had offered to reporters in 2013 suggesting he wanted the bill to pass with his amendment.
"Bret, of course I wanted the bill to pass — my amendment to pass," Cruz said, correcting himself.
"You said the bill," Baier quipped back.
"What my amendment did is take citizenship off the table," Cruz said. "What it doesn't mean I supported the other aspects of the bill."
Cruz added that his amendment was aimed at highlighting the "hypocrisy" of others, contending it revealed lawmakers were only interested in granting citizenship to those in the country illegally.
Baier wasn't sold.
"The problem though is that at the time, you were telling people like Byron York with the Washington Examiner that this was not a poison pill. You told him, 'My objective was not to kill immigration reform.' You said you wanted it to pass at the time. So my question to you is, looking back at what you said then and what you said now, which one should people believe?" the Fox News host asked.
Cruz maintained that his efforts "succeeded in defeating" the immigration reform legislation.
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