Immigration: Ted Cruz & Rick Perry Talk Tough, Prep for 2016

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The unofficial battle between Ted Cruz and Rick Perry for 2016 was on full display this week as both held press events on the same day calling for action on immigration.

The Governor announced executive action by declaring all state agencies use “E-Verify” to ensure they aren’t hiring undocumented immigrants, and Ted Cruz essentially threatened to to shutdown the government in order to defund the President’s own executive action. What’s most interesting is that while both these men are clearly on a path towards 2016, they have mostly stayed clear of each other.

Perry called for “Congress to quickly pass a bill,” but he didn’t mention the fact that President Obama has called for the same thing, or that both houses of Congress are majority Republican with both of Texas’ US Senators in leadership positions. As Majority Whip, Sen. John Cornyn is now the number 2 man behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Sen. Ted Cruz has become the de facto voice of the conservatives in the House.

Standing with Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Louie Gohmert, Cruz spoke loudly about ensuring the budget contained no funding for the President’s executive actions even if that meant missing the Dec. 11 deadline and resulted in another partial shutdown of the government. Cruz’ harsh uncompromising style has already started to erode his support among Republicans broadly but he remains the darling of the purity testers.

The incident most credited for dooming Perry’s 2012 campaign was his literal “oops” moment, but there was a figurative “oops” moment that the Governor’s new approach seems more likely to be reacting to. Perry said that anyone who didn’t support instate tuition for undocumented students was “heartless.” That was the breaking point. His recent executive actions of sending troops to the border and changing his position on E-verify send a strong signal that he isn’t going to make the same mistake twice.

An Oct. 2014 UT/Texas Tribune poll showed “border security (38%)” and “immigration (18%)” are top issues for Republicans in Texas. Education and even the economy were in single digits. A poll by UT/TT also has Ted Cruz with twice the support in the state as Rick Perry for the GOP’s 2016 nomination.

Of course the real race is fought in states like Iowa and that fact isn’t lost on Governor Perry. He has been hosting large donors and political influencers from the Hawkeye state at the mansion. Running for President under indictment will be tricky at best so the Governor is getting the most out of his post before he has to add “former” to his title.

In a round up of the latest 2016 polls by Real Clear Politics both Perry and Cruz lag behind their more moderate counterparts like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Interestingly those who lead the poll have also taken a more moderate position on immigration. That could mean that although the issue is important, even GOP voters want to see a middle ground rather than have the issue demo-gauged to a grinding hault. Ironically, and sadly, shutting down the government seems to be the only way to end the gridlock in Washington these days.

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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