It’s Cruz vs Rubio on the campaign trail

November 17, 2015

Republican White House hopefuls Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz expanded their feud this week, taking swipes at each other over national security and intelligence gathering in light of the attacks in Paris last Friday.

Rubio and Cruz, who placed third and fourth respectively in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll of the Republican field, have done battle before, mainly over immigration policy.

Some Republican political observers think Donald Trump and Ben Carson, currently the leaders for the 2016 presidential nomination, will flame out at some point and leave Cruz and Rubio as the last two candidates standing.

The spying spat took off this week when Rubio, a senator from Florida, said at a conference in Washington on Monday that lawmakers had recently weakened U.S. intelligence capabilities with help from his White House rivals, including Cruz.

“The weakening of our intelligence-gathering capabilities leaves America vulnerable, and that is exactly what’s happened,” Rubio said, adding that an attack like the ones that killed 129 people in Paris could happen in the United States.

He was referring to the USA Freedom Act, which put new limits on bulk collection of phone data by American spy agencies. Cruz voted for it, but Rubio did not.

Cruz’s campaign fired back on Tuesday. “11 of 13 @marcorubio endorsers voted with @tedcruz on USA Freedom Act,” Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler tweeted, before listing lawmakers who had voted for the legislation and had since come out in support of Rubio.

Rubio adviser Todd Harris responded by accusing Cruz of tying himself to the Republican establishment, a tough charge in a year in which voters seem to prefer outsider candidates.

“For a guy supposedly running against the ‘Washington Cartel,’ Cruz sure is quick to wrap himself in it,” Harris tweeted.

Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz greets supporters as he arrives to file his declaration of candidacy to appear on the New Hampshire primary election ballot in Concord, New Hampshire November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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