Rubio, Cruz Weigh In for Immigration Bout

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin writing the immigration-overhaul legislation today. The measure is likely to clear the panel, without modifications, in the next two weeks.

There is potential subplot, a narrative worthy of Hollywood. That is the contest, with implications for national Republican politics, between two freshman Cuban-American senators: Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the bipartisan gang that assembled the draft bill, and Texas' Ted Cruz, a member of the committee. Both are solid conservatives and both have their eye on the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Rubio continues to be criticized by conservative opponents of the immigration measure, though he is holding his own. (The cover of the conservative National Review this week carries the headline: "Rubio's Folly.")

Two senior Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Charles Grassley of Iowa, are leading the opposition to the measure. In terms of credibility and articulation, they are no threat to the law's proponents, including Rubio.

Cruz is another matter: He is tough, smart and relishes political fights. He supported the immigration reform proposed by President George W. Bush. He opposes the current plan, though, so far, in a fairly measured way.

Republicans, and more than a few Democrats, are waiting to see if he turns up the heat in the committee. It won't affect the outcome, but if he does, supporters fear, it'll make the immigration issue even more divisive and could bring more pressure on his Republican colleagues, including Rubio. And as Bloomberg View's Ramesh Ponnuru recently suggested, the more the Washington establishment trashes Cruz, the stronger he gets with the party's base conservatives.

Here is the Tale of the Tape


Rubio - 41

Cruz - 42


Rubio - Immigrants from Cuba

Cruz - Father from Cuba, Mother from Delaware


Rubio - B.A. University of Florida, J.D. University of Miami

Cruz - B.A. Princeton University, J.D. Harvard University


Rubio - Catholic (formerly Mormon)

Cruz - Southern Baptist


Rubio - West Miami City Commissioner, Speaker of the Florida House

Cruz - Supreme Court Clerk, Texas Solicitor General

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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Albert R Hunt at