ted cruz
Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have complimented each other on immigration in recent days. Other Republican presidential candidates have distanced themselves from Trump and sometimes openly criticized him. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) set himself apart from his Republican rivals by offering himself up as a Donald Trump apologist. Some Republican candidates -- Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, George Pataki -- have distanced themselves from Trump, following repeated comments calling Mexican and other immigrants “rapists” and “killers.” The comments have created fallout for Trump in the business world. Macy’s, NBC, Univision and other have cut ties with Trump, who they say is incompatible with their public image. Is Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric compatible with the Republican Brand?

In this war of words, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” seems to be the mantra among the more conservative candidates who comment on Trump. Yes, he’s their rival in the primary race, but he’s no “feminazi” Hillary Clinton or “socialist” Bernie Sanders. On the issue of immigration, he’s a strange bedfellow. The majority of Republican candidates have condemned Trump’s comments or declined to comment, but question is far from settled. Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, for example, have refused to condemn his comments, and basically back his immigration policy.


Ted Cruz refused to denounce him during an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, which aired on Sunday.

“I'm not going to engage in the media's game of throwing rocks and attacking other Republicans.”

He also took a moment to embrace Trump’s “focus” on immigration and his willingness to take on “the Washington cartel.”

“The Washington cartel doesn't believe we need to secure the borders,” Cruz said on Meet the Press. The Washington cartel supports amnesty and I think amnesty's wrong, and I salute Donald Trump for focusing on it.”


"I certainly wouldn't have said those things [about Mexicans]. I don't agree with [Donald Trump’s] comments, obviously," Rick Santorum stated on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Yet while the flailing presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator rejected Trump’s style, he joined Ted Cruz’s endorsement of its substance. In fact, he took it a bit further that Cruz, agreeing with Trump’s premise that undocumented people are malicious and inherently criminal.

"People who are coming illegally, obviously, are coming with a bad intent, let's just be honest. They're coming with the clear intent of breaking the law. I don't think we can [sugarcoat] that, but that doesn't mean that everybody who's coming across is a rapist or a murderer or anything else," Santorum said. "I think Donald points to a very important thing, which is we have a serious problem of illegal immigration in this country that is undermining American workers: by flattening out wages and lowering the standard of living for those in the U.S. legally.”


If Ted Cruz has been Trump’s warmest fellow candidate, George Pataki has been the most antagonistic. Slumping in the polls and battling for relevance in the 16-candidate field, the former New York Governor popped back in the spotlight by taking on Trump, about 2 weeks after his infamous comments and a few days before Ted Cruz’s apologetics.

“The last week of news coverage over the language used by Donald Trump to describe Mexicans has left me and a lot of other sensible people wondering what century we are living in," Pataki said in a letter. "Here we are in 2015 and a leading candidate for the GOP nomination for president is calling Mexicans criminals, rapists and drug dealers. This is unacceptable."

Donald Trump fired back on Twitter, leading to war of words lacking in substance (there’s not much policy in these volleys) but plenty of entertainment. Pataki tried to leverage the exchange to drive attention to his campaign and traffic to his website.


Former Texas governor Rick Perry bills himself as a tough-on-immigration candidate, but he didn’t take kindly to Trump’s comments about immigrants.

“The fact is that I’ve said very clearly that Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party,” Perry said Sunday on ABC News' This Week. “To paint with that broad a brush that Donald Trump did, is, I mean-- He's going to have to defend those remarks,” Perry said, adding that Trumps comments were personally offensive to him.


Jeb Bush has established himself as the most immigrant-friendly candidate in the Republican field. He wasn’t just put off by Trump’s comments but personally offended. Bush’s wife is a Mexican immigrant, and he expresses pride in his bicultural family.

"This is a guy who was a Democrat for most of the last decade. I don't think he represents the Republican Party, and his views are way out of the mainstream of what most Republicans think," Bush reportedly said, in a quote attributed to the New York Times. “He’s doing this -- he’s not a stupid guy, so I don’t assume he thinks that every Mexican crossing the border is a rapist. He’s doing this to inflame and incite and to draw attention, which seems to be the organizing principle of his campaign,” Bush said, according to the New York Times.


Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has taken a lot of flak from conservatives for leading the bipartisan effort for comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. While he’s walked away from some of his pro-immigration views, he didn’t shy away from Trump. A few days after Pataki broke the Republican silence Rubio leveled a strong critique against Trump.

“Trump’s comments are not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive. Our next president needs to be someone who brings Americans together – not someone who continues to divide. Our broken immigration system is something that needs to be solved, and comments like this move us further from – not closer to – a solution. We need leaders who offer serious solutions to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system,” Rubio said in a statement.


Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney admitted recently that Trump’s rhetoric isn’t good for their party.

“I think [Trump] made a severe error in saying what he did about Mexican-Americans,” Romney told CNN.


Former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer put it more bluntly and colorfully than Romney.

“Donald Trump is like watching a roadside accident,” Fleischer told Politico. “Everybody pulls over to see the mess. And Trump thinks that’s entertainment. But running for president is serious. And the risk for the party is he tarnishes everybody.”


If Republican presidential candidates want to understand how damaging Trump’s comments are, they should listen to liberals; the “enemies” of their rival. Jon Stewart called Trump’s gowdy candidacy a “gift from heaven.” One veteran Democratic strategist called it a sign from God.

“I am a person of faith — and the Donald’s entry into this race can only be attributed to the fact that the good Lord is a Democrat with a sense of humor,” Paul Begala, adviser at a pro-Hillary PAC told the Washington Post.

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