Ted Cruz has clearly flip-flopped on the poison pill and on legalizing illegals: In 2013 he said the poison pill was the citizenship provision in the Gang of Eight bill, but in 2015 it's suddenly his own amendment to the bill which has become the pill. Cruz also was for legalization of illegals in 2013, but is totally against that now, suddenly falling back on "attrition through enforcement", which sounds a lot like a combination of Mitt Romney's self-deportation with a long-term, slow-walking program of round-ups.
Ted Cruz on May 31, 2013 at Princeton, video here, transcription here, specifically calling the citizenship provision of the Gang of Eight bill "the poison pill":
'"And what I believe is happening is that citizenship provision is designed, and the White House knows it’s designed, to be a poison pill in the House [of Representatives] to torpedo the bill, because then they want to campaign in 2014 and 2016, and say, ‘see those Republicans? They killed immigration reform.’…”'
Ten days earlier that May Ted Cruz in the Senate Judiciary Committee, here, also characterized the Gang of Eight bill as unable to pass without his amendment establishing legalization. In other words, the path to saving the Gang of Eight bill was his amendment replacing citizenship (the poison pill) with citizenship-light, i.e. legalization:
'"If this amendment is adopted to the current bill, the effect would be that those 11 million under this current bill would still be eligible for RPI [registered provisional immigrant] status. 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. This amendment would allow that happen, but what it would do is remove the pathway to citizenship so that there are real consequences that respect the rule of law and that treat legal immigrants with the fairness and respect they deserve. And a second point to those advocacy groups that are so passionately engaged. In my view, if this committee rejects this amendment, and I think everyone here views it as quite likely this committee will choose to reject this amendment, in my view, that decision will make it much, much more likely that this entire bill will fail in the House of Representatives. I don't want immigration reform to fail. I want immigration reform to pass."'
But now post-debate in December 2015 Ted Cruz is claiming in response to Bret Baier, preposterously, that his amendment to the Gang of Eight bill is what killed the bill.
Byron York has sorted this out better than anyone, here:
'Further, in a phone interview with Cruz on May 28, 2013, I specifically asked whether, despite his opposition to a path to citizenship, and given the three-year delay he called for, "You do buy into this whole legalization idea?"
'"Legalization is the predicate of the Gang of Eight bill," Cruz responded. "And in introducing amendments, what I endeavored to do was improve that bill so that it actually fixes the problem." ...
'Cruz's team has tried to explain away that position by claiming Cruz was offering some sort of poison-pill amendment designed to kill the Gang of Eight bill rather than improve it. Cruz did it himself in a somewhat stammering interview with Fox News' Bret Baier Wednesday evening. But the situation is more complicated than Cruz says. Yes, he knew Democrats would never accept his amendments, but he spoke with apparent feeling about including legalization, if delayed, in the final deal.
'On Tuesday night [during the debate], however, Cruz was in full no-legalization mode. And when some reporters questioned whether his comment "I do not intend to support legalization" was some sort of lawyerly way of leaving the door open to someday doing just that, Cruz sent an aide to tell reporters that he no way, no how supports legalization.
'"I'm here tonight, and I want to make this super clear to everybody, so put me on the record on this: Sen. Cruz unequivocally, unequivocally, does not support legalization," national campaign chairman Chad Sweet told the Washington Examiner's David Drucker after the debate. When Drucker asked what Cruz would do with the 11 or 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, Sweet answered, "His plan is attrition through enforcement. He's following the rule of law…If we enforce the law, ultimately there will be attrition through enforcement. And in the end, though, what the senator is trying to do, as well, is save and expand our legal immigration system."'
But how is something which never passed supposed to have killed the Gang of Eight bill? The bill died as Cruz originally predicted, because it was poison.
So what we're left with is a Marco Rubio whose positions in support of the original Gang of Eight bill have not really changed at all, and a Ted Cruz who has shape-shifted himself all around the bill to adapt to the new environment against illegal alien amnesty, legalization and citizenship swirling around the Trump hurricane.
For supporters of borders, language and culture, Marco Rubio is definitely out, Ted Cruz is clearly unreliable, and only The Donald appears to be the real deal.
But I predict even Trump will eventually disappoint on illegal immigration. He's aiming for big and over-the-top stuff because he knows damn well how hard it's going to be to get anything at all. Hope for a lot, expect only a little.
Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh's laughable account here actually says CNN stumbled into the truth that Cruz' amendment was the poison pill ("[T]his amendment that Ted Cruz did propose which would have given legal status to undocumented immigrants was meant at the time as a poison pill."). Not according to the 2013 Ted Cruz. Cruz must be laughing how easy it is to dupe the likes of CNN and Rush Limbaugh.
So the question is, What will the 2017 Ted Cruz say? If he's the president, the answer is clearly, Whatever he feels like saying.