Ted Cruz named names on Friday. He attacked Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio as "vocal, aggressive, repeated proponents of amnesty," who, if they receive the GOP presidential nomination, won't be able to stop Hillary Clinton from pursuing President Obama's "objective" of fundamentally transforming America.
Speaking to Iowa radio host Steve Deace, Cruz argued that Obama's strategy in seeking this goal has been to allow "millions of people to come here illegally" and then to "give them citizenship and allow them to vote to keep the Democrats in power forever."
"There's a reason why Barack Obama has said his objective is to fundamentally transform America. He meant that," the Texas senator said. "And part of the way he does that is through allowing millions of people to come here illegally and then trying to grant them amnesty and give them citizenship and allow them to vote to keep the Democrats in power forever."
Cruz proceeded to expand on a point he has been making on the campaign trail for weeks, and also made in Thursday's Republican debate, when he claimed that "a majority of the candidates on this stage have supported amnesty."
On Friday, he added that "the majority" of his opponents' past positions on immigration would make it impossible for them to "stand up and take on Hillary Clinton on the issue of amnesty" just as, in 2012, Mitt Romney "couldn't stand up and oppose Barack Obama on Obamacare."
This year, Walker has sounded tough on immigration, including talking at times about reexamining the legal immigration level. Bush has maintained he supports "earned legal status," but could be open to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of a larger immigration package, if the terms of the deal included border security and other details. Rubio famously was part of the "Gang of Eight" Senate bill, which included a pathway to citizenship. Clinton has said she is open to further expanding Obama's executive actions, which defer the deportation of certain classes of undocumented immigrants.
"It's the same problem we saw in 2012 with Mitt Romney," Cruz said. "Because he had authored Romneycare, we discovered in the general election he couldn't stand up and oppose Barack Obama on Obamacare and we went through the 2012 presidential election with virtually no mention of Obamacare."
And unlike in the debate, when he left them unnamed, Cruz finished his argument by identifying the primary targets of his criticism.
"Likewise, if we're going to have an election that turns on amnesty on the rule of law, we can't be nominating candidates like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker and Marco Rubio who have been vocal, aggressive, repeated proponents of amnesty for many, many years," he said.
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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