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Jan 15, 2016 5:28 PM

Steinhauser: Rubio tells NH1 News Cruz changes positions 'in order to gain votes'

NH1 Political Director -

HENNIKER – Sen. Marco Rubio says rival Ted Cruz’s Senate votes are “about political calculation.”

And in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News minutes before a town hall at New England College on Friday afternoon, the Republican presidential candidate also took aim at another rival for the GOP nomination, saying he had “significant policy differences” with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Late into Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, the senator from Florida launched a barrage at the senator from Texas, saying “Ted Cruz, you used to say you supported doubling the number of green cards, now you say that you're against it. You used to support a 500% increase in the number of guest workers, now you say that you're against it. You used to support legalizing people that were here illegally, now you say you're against it. You used to say that you were in favor of birthright citizenship, now you say that you are against it.”

Cruz jabbed back, saying “at least half of the things Marco said are flat-out false. They're absolutely false.”

Asked by NH1 News on Friday if he was accusing Cruz of saying anything to get elected, Rubio said “first of all he attacked me so I was just responding, specifically on immigration. Ted has changed his position, not just on immigration, but on trade and everything else. He portrays himself as a consistent conservative. Actually if you look at his record it’s one of political calculation, of changing positions on issues in order to gain votes. That’s how you can vote with Rand Paul on the defense budget, and then claim he also supported my budget, which increased defense spending. So it’s about political calculation.”

Asked to respond to those comments, Cruz campaign communications director Rick Tyler told NH1 News that “in that litany of lies, I think I heard the last gasp of his campaign.”

Rubio tells NH1 News he has ‘significant policy differences’ with Christie

Rubio also tangled at the debate with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The verbal fistfight the two candidates have been waging in recent weeks exploded into an all-out prime time war of words.

Rubio portrayed Christie a liberal in step with President Barack Obama. He went on to say that “unfortunately, Gov. Christie has endorsed many of the ideas that Barack Obama supports, whether it is Common Core or gun control or the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor or the donation he made to Planned Parenthood.”

Christie pushed back against Rubio’s charges, saying he didn’t support Sotomayor and “secondly, I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood.”

And he touted his gun rights record.

Christie then threw back at Rubio the response the senator gave at an earlier debate when he came under attack from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Rubio said at the time that Bush was doing what political consultants told him to do to stem his drop in the polls.

“I stood on the stage and watched Marco, rather indignantly, look at Governor Bush and say, ‘Someone told you that because we’re running for the same office, that criticizing me will get you to that office,’” said Christie, as he looked at Rubio. “It appears that the same someone has been whispering in old Marco’s ear too.”

Asked Friday if Christie had a point, Rubio told NH1 News “no, because we’re having a debate about our records and the truth of the matter is that Chris Christie supported a liberal justice, Sonya Sotomayor. We’re not having justices like that when I’m president. He ran for office in order to achieve gun control, the first time he ever ran for office. He’s a supporter of Common Core, a supporter of an internet sales tax. These are significant policy differences and our next president cannot be someone who has those positions.”

The attack over Sotomayor was the fourth time in four hours on Friday that Rubio attacked Christie over the Supreme Court justice’s nomination. Part of that attack included reading Christie’s own words in support of Sotomayor.

“Chris Christie supports judges I would never have supported. He supported a judge named Sonia Sotomayor, who was one of the most liberal people on the bench. And if you want that kind of judge, you vote for people who agree with that, I don't,” Rubio told the audience at New England College.

“And he denies he supported her, but I have his quote right here. I have it right here - I have it right here. ‘I support her appointment to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to keep politics out of the process and confirm her nomination’,” Rubio added.

In an interview Friday morning on MSNBC, Christie explained that “what I said about Sonia Sotomayor was that she deserved an up or down vote, but that she was not the type of justice I would select if I were President. That's hardly supporting someone, that’s just saying someone should get an up or down note.”

Rubio was the first presidential candidate to return to the Granite State following the debate. Rubio and his team flew overnight from South Carolina and were back on the campaign trail by 8:15am at an event in Derry.

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