Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas arrives at the State House to file for the primary ballot on Nov. 12

Nov 12, 2015 11:30 PM

Steinhauser: Cruz takes aim at Trump and Rubio

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – Ted Cruz Thursday did something that he rarely does. He drew a sharp contrast with Donald Trump.

Asked by NH1 News about Trump, the first-term senator from Texas and darling of the tea party movement praised the GOP presidential front runner, saying “I like Donald. As you know a lot of other Republican candidates have gone out of their way to smack him with a stick. I am not one of them. I’m glad he’s running. I think he’s brought a lot of energy and excitement to the race.”

“I am personally grateful because that’s millions of people who may never have turned on the television who having the opportunity to hear my positive optimistic message,” added Cruz, a White House contender who’s seen his poll numbers in the race for the GOP nomination rise recently.

But moments later, he reversed course, saying “I think the distinguishing factor that every Republican primary voter is looking for is distinguishing between campaign conservatives, people who talk a good game on the trail but who haven’t walked the walk, and a consistent conservative. And I’m the only candidate running who’s been a consistent conservative. Who’s been a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a national security conservative.”

Cruz also railed against those Republicans, including some of his rivals for the Republican nomination, who he said support “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

“A majority of the candidates standing on that Republican debate state have previously publicly supported amnesty and I am the only candidate standing on that debate state who has never supported amnesty and in fact who led the fight to defeat amnesty in Congress. When Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama joined with establishment Republicans in pushing the massive amnesty plan, the gang of eight bill, I joined side by side with Sen. Jeff Sessions, we led the fight to defeat amnesty,” Cruz declared.

The comments appeared to be a veiled attack at Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a rival for the nomination who’s star has also been on the rise in recent weeks. Rubio was a member of the gang of eight who in 2013 pushed a bipartisan immigration reform bill through the Senate, which was controlled by Democrats at the time. The measure included an eventual pathway to citizenship for many of the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. The bill was attacked as “amnesty” by many conservatives.

The legislation was never brought to a vote in the GOP dominated House. Rubio later altered his position on the bill.

Cruz spoke with reporters moments after filing for the first-in-the-nation primary ballot. He praised the Granite state’s special status, saying “you all treat politics like we treat football in Texas.”

“Let me say in particular how important New Hampshire’s first in the nation status is,” he added, before warning that “you know there are voices in Washington that are arguing for getting rid of New Hampshire’s first in the nation status. I think that is absolute lunacy.”

Watch/Read: Cruz, Graham, Santorum warn primary status in peril

Cruz also touted his recent endorsement in New Hampshire by the conservative 603 Alliance, saying it was a good signal of things to come.

“I think things like the 603 Alliance are good foreshadowing of where voters end up when they start to learn the comparative record of the candidates. That if you look at how primaries play out I think the grass tops activists are early foreshadowing of where the voters will be because they are the folks who put in the time to do the hard scrutiny to say ‘OK who’s telling the truth and who’s just on the campaign trail saying what ever’s popular at the moment’,” he said.

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