GREENVILLE, S.C. — GOP presidential contenders Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio continued their ongoing feud over immigration during Saturday night’s debate, but as the vocal South Carolina audience got involved, the pair let the insults fly.
Cruz said Rubio “supports citizenship for 12 million people here illegally. In addition to that, Marco went on Univision in Spanish and said he would not rescind President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on his first day in office,” Cruz said. “I have promised to rescind every single executive action, including that one.”
Rubio wasn't having any of that.
“Well first of all," the Florida senator replied, "I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn’t speak Spanish."
With that, Cruz began responding to Rubio in Spanish.
Rubio: "First of all, I don't know how [Cruz] knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish." pic.twitter.com/ffDx6Mnigw— POLITICO Video (@POLITICOvideo) February 14, 2016
Here's what he said:
What Ted Cruz said in Spanish: "Vato si quieres dicelo ahora mismo, dicelo ahora en español, si quieres.” - @pychavez— Ben Gittleson (@Ben Gittleson)1455420624.0
Translation: "Dude/man if you want to tell them now, tell them now in Spanish, if you want." - @pychavez https://t.co/hiiTdszrs2— Ben Gittleson (@Ben Gittleson)1455420650.0
The Associated Press characterized Cruz's response as "halting and heavily accented" and "hard to understand — even for bilingual listeners."
Rubio speaks fluent Spanish while Cruz has for years freely admitted that his Spanish is "lousy."
“For a number of weeks now, Ted Cruz has just been telling lies,” Rubio continued. “He lied about Ben Carson in Iowa, he lies about Planned Parenthood, he lies about marriage, he lies about all sorts of things, and now he makes things up.”
The fight about immigration during the debate began when Cruz said “there are sharp differences on amnesty” between himself and Rubio.
“In a Republican primary, everyone talks tough on immigration. Everyone is against illegal immigration in a Republican primary, but as voters, we’ve been burned over and over again by people that give us a great campaign speech, and they don’t walk the walk,” Cruz said.
As the two candidates had their back-and-forth, so did their supporters in the audience — each candidate receiving a cacophony of cheers and boos as they said their piece.
Cruz addressed the boos directed at him at one point as he seemingly took a page from fellow contender Donald Trump’s book and accused the jeering part of the crowd as being “members of the donor class.”
“He either wasn’t telling the truth then, or he isn’t telling the truth now,” Rubio said. “But to argue he’s a purist on immigration is just not true.”
Like Rubio, Trump also referenced the Iowa mailers and called Cruz a liar later in the debate.
Follow Kaitlyn Schallhorn (@K_Schallhorn) on Twitter