Abbott on the Kelly File, Cruz on Hardball, Trump on the Simpsons and Perry on sanctuary cities

Good day Austin:

Our governor, Greg Abbott, was on the Fox News Channel’s Kelly File last night, where he linked the terrible shooting death of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco last week, allegedly by a Mexican man with a long criminal record who had been deported five times, to President Obama’s lawlessness on immigration policy.

Strong words, but Abbott was emotionally far more restrained than the host, Megyn Kelly, who was on an impressive show-length tear of outrage about Steine’s murder and the Obama administration’s culpability.

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Meanwhile, one click and a world away at MSNBC, Ted Cruz was talking about his new book, A Time for Truth, with his putative archfoe, Chris Matthews – who in the past has characterized Cruz as a cross between Joe McCarthy and Beelzebub – on Matthews’ show Hardball, though with Matthews searching for areas of agreement, it was less Hardball and more Fast-Pitch Softball, if that. (Below, for example, Cruz smiles as Matthews dismissed birther arguments against the Canadian-born Cruz: “I think you’re completely in the clear.”)

 

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And, of course, everywhere there was the meteor trail of Donald Trump (who notably has raised doubts about Cruz’s eligibility, just as he did about Obama’s), whose political star now burns so brightly that Fox is risking the premier episode of the 27th season of The Simpsons, on Trump’s not having burnt out into nothingness by then – though I suppose it would still work even then as a kind of fond memory of summer.

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First Abbott, who was brought onto Kelly’s show to talk about Obama administration officials being summoned to appear in the federal District Court in Brownsville next month to explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating an injunction issued against the executive order on immigration promulgated by the president late last year. The injunction resulted from a case Abbott bought at the end of his term as attorney general on behalf of Texas and half the other states in the country.

Here is  the interview.

From the interview:

Abbott: And Megan, that points out the similarity between what happened in that courtroom in South Texas and what happened in San Francisco, and that is a complete disregard for the law. It seems like this area of the Obama administration believes it is above the law and does not have to comply with it. In doing so is putting Americans in harm’s way.

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They continue to disregard the law to the extent that it is imperiling American lives.

Kelly: Governor, we’ll see if the Department of Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson and Miss Saldana have to go down to Texas federal court in August. It will be a sight to behold. I predict they will get their act together before that.

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(Fun fact: Abbott was followed on the show by Mark Fuhrman.)

More from Kelly earlier in the show:

KELLY: In the five days since an illegal immigrant shot and killed Kate, a 32-year-old woman, shot at random on a pier, this story has become increasingly ugly. First for San Francisco and now for the White House and President Obama. She was killed while walking with her dad in a popular and public location, allegedly by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times and had managed to put multiple felonies on his record as he kept coming back. Francisco Sanchez told police he had gone to San Francisco because it was a sanctuary city where he was less likely to be deported and sure enough, when he was being held on drug charges last March, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office decided to release him rather than have the feds deport him, saying that is their policy, but their policy undermines federal law.

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This cannot be turfed to Homeland Security. The White House owes the public an answer, a direct, straightforward, simple answer because it was this administration that apparently stopped a measure to combat sanctuary cities like the one in San Francisco in the first place. In fact, The Kelly File has unearthed direct evidence that the administration has no interest in cracking down on sanctuary cities and here is the proof for you to see for yourself. Listen to the head of ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement on this very issue less than four months ago. This is Thursday, March 19, 2015 and Ms. Saldaña on the subject of cities that put immigrant felons back on the streets.

Q – As you know, there’s, I don’t know, 200 or so state, local jurisdictions that have enacted laws or policies to not cooperate with DHS, with immigration — San Francisco being one. And the term is often called “sanctuary city.”  Does the President approve of or embrace those cities and communities that have adopted these policies or laws?

ICE DIRECTOR SARAH SALDANA [on 03/19/15]: Last calendar year, state and local jurisdictions rejected more than 12,000 ICE detainer requests. These are convicted criminals?

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN [on 03/19/15]: Would it help you if we clarified the law to make it clear that it was mandatory that those local communities cooperate with you? 

SALDANA [on 03/19/15]: Thank you, amen, yes. 

KELLY: Thank you. Amen, yes. Crack down on the sanctuary cities is what she said, but the very next day, Friday March 20, a complete reversal after the ACLU, immigrants rights groups and others pressured the White House and presto, the head of ICE makes a shocking about-face. This time in writing, though, saying, quote, “[a]ny effort at federal legislation now to mandate state and local law enforcement’s compliance with ICE detainers will, in our view, be a highly counterproductive step and lead to more resistance and less cooperation in overall efforts to promote public safety.” What happened to ‘thank you, amen, yes’ a day earlier? And now, after clear evidence that it is not interested in a sanctuary city crackdown, this administration tells reporters it can’t comment on whether the President backs the sheriff or the policies in this case? 

Here is the exchange with White House press secretary Josh Earnest yesterday, which is pretty bureaucratic and unsatisfying.

Q – As you know, there’s, I don’t know, 200 or so state, local jurisdictions that have enacted laws or policies to not cooperate with DHS, with immigration — San Francisco being one. And the term is often called “sanctuary city.” Does the President approve of or embrace those cities and communities that have adopted these policies or laws?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Alexis, one of the important executive actions that the President announced back in November was a significant change to the Secure Communities program.  And the Secure Communities program was essentially the way that — it was essentially the program that codified the relationship between local law enforcement authorities and federal immigration enforcement authorities.

 And there was lots of dissatisfaction I think on both ends of that relationship about the Secure Communities program.  And so what the President announced back in November was essentially an overhaul of that system.  He threw out the Secure Communities program and put in place something called the Priority Enforcement program that was designed to improve coordination and allow local jurisdictions to exercise more flexibility in working with the federal government on these issues.

And the President did that — undertook that change with an eye toward making sure that we’re concentrating our limited federal law enforcement assets on deporting criminals, those who pose a threat to the community and those who may pose a threat to national security.  And too often, we saw a broken immigration system that allowed those enforcement resources to be diluted by being focused on essentially hardworking people who were just trying to provide for their families and that it resulted in a situation where every bit as much attention was focused on separating families as deporting felons.  And the President didn’t believe that that made a lot of sense.  It certainly isn’t consistent with the kinds of values that we hold dear in this country and it certainly is not consistent with a common-sense assessment about what’s going to best protect the American people.

 And so this Priority Enforcement program was put in place to improve the coordination between state — I’m sorry, between federal and local law enforcement, and make sure that these law enforcement resources were being focused on the greatest need, which is deporting those individuals that pose the greatest threat to communities across the country or to the country itself.

 Q – So back to the situation in San Francisco recently that was much in the news.  Does the President believe that the sheriff in San Francisco made a mistake, or it should have been handled differently?  What’s his feeling now?

 MR. EARNEST – Well, as it relates to this specific case, I’m just not going to be able to talk about the specific details of this matter.  But the Department of Homeland Security may be able to share more with you.

Back to Kelly:

KELLY: They have to got to speak to their ongoing support for these policies. It isn’t okay to try to turf it to Homeland Security. Who ultimately runs Homeland Security? President Obama is in charge of all of it. He can’t dodge responsibility for the policies he refuses to support at the federal level. The laws that are on the books by saying, take it up with Saldaña or Jeh Johnson. They answer to him. 

He allowed this to happen. They – the administration knew the person he placed in charge of ICE was telling Congress, ‘yes, help us, get these cities into compliance’ and someone took her behind the wood shed and said you’re reversing that explicitly and now they don’t want to answer for it because they know the press will be too lazy to hold them to account. It is lawlessness.

From the AP:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The killing of a woman at a sightseeing pier has brought criticism down on this liberal city because the Mexican man under arrest was in the U.S. illegally, had been deported five times and was out on the streets after San Francisco officials disregarded a request from immigration authorities to keep him locked up

San Francisco is one of dozens of cities and counties across the country that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The city goes so far as to promote itself as a “sanctuary” for people in the country illegally.

In a jailhouse interview with a TV station, Francisco Sanchez, the 45-year-old repeat drug offender arrested in the shooting Wednesday of Kathryn Steinle, appeared to confirm that he came to the city because of its status as a sanctuary.

From a 2009 Congressional Research Service report:

(S)ome jurisdictions have been unwilling to assist the federal government in enforcing measures that distinguish between legal and non-legal residents of the community. Some of these jurisdictions have adopted formal or informal policies limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Austin is sometimes described as a sanctuary city, but as the AP’s Jim Vertuno wrote when a renewed effort was made in the Legislature this session to ban them:

The term “sanctuary city” has no legal meaning; it is typically used to describe local governments that ban police from asking about a person’s immigration status. A bill by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, would prohibit local governments from prohibiting such bans.

The state Republican platform calls for banning sanctuary cities, and Abbott would have been expected to sign the legislation if it reached his desk. But it died in the Senate, without a whole lot of fanfare, though that might have been different if the recent events in San Francisco had transpired a few months earlier.

But it is interesting, in the current moment, to read Enrique Rangel at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, on why Charles Perry’s bill failed in the Texas Senate.

Two Republican senators joined their 11 Democratic colleagues in opposing the measures.

That’s the minimum number of senators needed to block legislation under the new three-fifths rule in the 31-member Texas Senate. The rule requires at least 19 senators be present to agree bringing a bill to the Senate floor.

“I am a ‘no” on sanctuary cities on repealing the in-state tuition law,” said Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler.

“Sanctuary cities is a local control issue and I trust that in my city they do a fabulous job on this issue,” said Eltife, who served as mayor of Tyler before being elected to the Texas Senate a decade ago.

“With regard to in-state tuition, we are targeting the wrong people,” Eltife said in reference to undocumented students who were brought here when they were children and many have not even been back to the country where they were born.

Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, gave stronger reasons for opposing SB 185 and Senate Bill 1819, the in-state tuition bill filed by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels.

“Let me just say that there are three problems with (SB) 185, that’s the one I’d like to concentrate on,” Estes, said.

“First of all, it is absolutely important to realize that it’s the federal government’s job to enforce our immigration laws and I worry about the burden that it puts on our local police,” he said.

“Point number two is this: I feel that the bill lacks the protections for American citizens being stopped at random,” he said. “American citizens, no matter what their ethnic origin, have the right to go about their daily business and not be stopped and being questioned.

“Let me say this: the phrase ‘show me your papers,’ is more like Nazi Germany than it is about the U.S.A.

“The third reason is a political reason,” Estes stressed. “For the Grand Old Party, the Republican Party to be viable in the future, we have to compete for the American Hispanic vote. And nothing could alienate Hispanic Americans more than being stopped at random, arbitrarily and asked their status because of the color of their skin.”

 Meanwhile, the other Perry – Rick not Charles – who is running for president and has touted his experience with border security and immigration as a prime credential – just released a statement this afternoon on his plan to end sanctuary cities.

From Rick Perry:

Ronald Reagan once called immigrants “Americans by choice.” In Texas, we have a long history of welcoming immigrants from all over the world, immigrants who have helped make our economy the strongest in the country.  It’s not fair that some people try to jump the immigration line by coming across our border illegally. One of the core responsibilities of the federal government is to secure the border. As the recent tragedy in San Francisco has shown us, it’s important for the federal government and local governments to be able to cooperate to apprehend illegal immigrants with criminal histories. San Francisco—and many other cities in America run by left-wing governments—have become ‘sanctuary cities’ that choose to openly defy U.S. immigration law and prevent cooperation with federal authorities. Perversely, the federal government subsidizes this behavior by sending Justice Department funds to cities that intentionally harbor illegal immigrants in their jails. This has to end.

Today, I am proposing to pull funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program—or SCAAP—from sanctuary cities. States with sanctuary cities will lose a proportionate amount of their SCAAP funding as well. SCAAP funding will also be restricted to jurisdictions that actively participate in immigration law enforcement programs. Cities and counties with sanctuary policies in place will also be prohibited from applying for federal law enforcement or Department of Homeland Security grants. Federal taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the irresponsible behavior of these governments. Furthermore, the Justice Department should allow federal immigration officials, either through the executive branch or Congressional action, to have access to prisons and holding facilities in sanctuary cities and counties, so as to verify the immigration status of people in those facilities.

The Governor Perry Plan To End Sanctuary Cities:

  • Pull federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) funding to cities and counties with sanctuary policies in place.
  • Pull federal SCAAP funding to states with sanctuary cities and counties at a proportional level to the population of said cities and counties.
  • Limit SCAAP funds to jurisdictions that actively participate in immigration law enforcement programs.
  • Prohibit cities and counties with sanctuary policies in place from applying for federal law enforcement or Department of Homeland Security grants.
  • Allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, either through legislative or executive action, access to prisons and holding facilities in non-compliant sanctuary cities and counties to check the immigration status of all individuals arrested.

 

Now to Cruz, and the truism that book tours heal all wounds, or maybe that it’s simply harder to say mean things to someone when you’re looking them in the eye.

 

Here are some highlights.

On Trump and birtherism:

Matthews: Tonight, we’ve got a lot of Trump, but also all of the men who may
replace him as the Republican Party`s number one challenger to the
political establishment. Texas senator Ted Cruz — he`s author of a new
book, “A time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America.” There he is,
and we have him with us tonight.

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Let me ask you about this thing about Trump. Now, Trump is out there
still playing the birther card ….. On the day you announced your candidacy, Senator, Trump also said your birthplace — well, you were born in Calgary, I guess your father was working up there, father and mother at the time up in Canada — could be a hurdle for your campaign.
Let`s watch him here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He was born in Canada. If you know — and when we all studied
our history lessons, you`re supposed to be born in this country, so I just
don`t know how the courts would rule on it. But it`s an additional hurdle
that he has that nobody else seems to have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, actually, “natural-born” means that you were born to
American parents. You don`t have to be naturalized. I think you`re
completely in the clear here, as I believed from the beginning the
president is, because Trump, he has never said that the mother of Barack
Obama is not the mother of Barack Obama.

But what do you think of the fact he still says it`s a hurdle for you?
And by the way, you`re quite open about how you grew up and where you were
born.

CRUZ: Well, sure. Sure. Now, look, I like Donald Trump. You know,
there are a lot of folks in Washington right now that seem to be crawling
all over themselves to smack Donald Trump. I`m not one of them. I think
he`s bold, I think he`s brash, and I think he`s got backbone. I think
he…

MATTHEWS: Well, why does he say stuff about you?

CRUZ: You know, look…

MATTHEWS: Why does he say it`s a hurdle for you, when no one else is
causing you trouble? And by the way, George — who is it — Romney, George
Romney, was born in Mexico to American parents. John McCain was born in
the Canal Zone. Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona, a territory at the
time.

CRUZ: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: Nobody made a beef about that.

CRUZ: Yes, look, the legal question is quite straightforward, that
the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen. As you
noted, my mom was Irish and Italian, born in Wilmington, Delaware. And
when I was born in Calgary, I was a citizen by birth. I`ve never breathed
a breath of air on earth…

MATTHEWS: Yes. So you are black Irish. This is great!

On Super PAC money in politics

MATTHEWS: So the games are being played. But what about campaign
financing? I mean, you`ve got a big PAC out there, like everybody else,
with all this money coming in, $37 million. And the American people are
supposed to believe that the guy who`s running, who’s benefiting from the
PAC money, doesn’t know anything about how it`s being raised, does’t even
know the guy running it.

But you know the guy. His name is Dathan Voelter. How do you
avoid ever meeting him, winking at him, talking to him to keep non-
collaboration?

CRUZ: Well, let me take…

MATTHEWS: Because that`s what people wonder about. They think it`s a
joke. Is it a joke?

CRUZ: Let me take those two one at the same time. I want to start…

MATTHEWS: Start with the Senate leadership, if you want.

CRUZ: Well, yes. You mentioned what happened with the debt ceiling,
and the opening chapter of the book describes what happens behind closed
doors in the Republican lunch.

MATTHEWS: I thought it was a good chapter.

CRUZ: And it`s entitled “Mendacity.” It really highlights what I try
to do. Look, I recognize not a lot of your viewers are likely to be Ted
Cruz fans. But if your viewers are wondering, All right, why is this guy
fighting for what he`s fighting for, if your viewers are wondering what
happens, what happens behind closed doors in the Senate, what this book
tries to do is really shine a light on the corruption, on the role of
money, and it takes on both parties.

MATTHEWS: So you`re saying this is a good book to buy.

CRUZ: Well, I`m certainly encouraging folks to buy —

MATTHEWS: By the way, that part of the book I completely agree with.
But campaign financing to me…

CRUZ: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: … has gotten to be this sort of double game. Well, I
only take so much from my campaign, $2,700 a head. But all this guy money
comes in. It`s not marked. Nobody knows who it is. Isn`t that part of
the corruption?

CRUZ: Look…

MATTHEWS: Is that part of the corruption?

CRUZ: Absolutely. And the current system makes no sense. Right now,
most of the candidates in this race, the bulk of their money is in Super
PACs where it`s illegal to coordinate. Who in their right mind — I mean,
as the result of this race, I`m not allowed to talk to folks who are going
to be spending more money communicating my message than I am. That`s
idiocy!

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a joke, though, because you write a speech, you
give a speech, and they know what your message is and they put it on
television. This idea of secrecy or non-collaboration`s a joke!

CRUZ: Well, and that`s why I introduced legislation that was called
the Super PAC Elimination Act of 2014. And what it does is real simple.
It would allow unlimited contributions from individuals…

MATTHEWS: Right.

CRUZ: … directly to campaigns and require immediate disclosure
within 24 hours.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CRUZ: Now, that actually — you`d have sunshine, you`d have sunlight,
and the difference would be super PACs effectively would go away because
people would give to campaigns, and that way, Hillary could communicate her
message from her supporters, and we could all talk about — if someone
gives a gazillion dollars to a candidate, we could talk about, OK, are they
on the take?

But I believe in more speech and more sunlight is the best thing for
democracy.

On the Supreme Court and Bush v. Gore

MATTHEWS:  In the 2000 election, you had a big role in the recount. We covered it here. It was the best thing I ever covered. I never liked covering anything like the recount. But you bring the Supreme Court into it, which you were happy as a lover of the Supreme Court then. You brought them in. They basically said the state lost its rights to recount (INAUDIBLE) because of equal protection.

Now — now, on the issue of marriage equality, you say no equal protection, leave the states alone. So how do you be consistent there? Are you consistent or inconsistent on equal protection?

CRUZ: Listen, I believe I`m very consistent. And one of the things I describe in the book is how I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting to defend the Constitution. It`s been a passion…

MATTHEWS: And the court.

CRUZ: … literally since…

MATTHEWS: And the Supreme Court.

CRUZ: … I was a teenager…

MATTHEWS: You`ve always been pro-Supreme Court.

CRUZ: Well…

MATTHEWS: Until now

CRUZ: I revere the court. As you know…

MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.

CRUZ: … I was a law clerk to Chief Justice Rehnquist.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) in the book. As you would say, it`s in the
book. And this is even the book, by the way, it`s “A Time for Truth.”

I really think it`s important to read it. Now you`re for retention
elections. You’ve had to raise a ton of money to run for president, and
you`re definitely in the running. You`ll be in the debates and everything.
Should judges have to go out and raise $37 billion to run for reelection?
How can you put judges out there and make them politicians?

CRUZ: Listen…

MATTHEWS: They won’t be an independent judiciary.

CRUZ: I am reluctant to call for retention elections. It makes me
sad.

MATTHEWS: But you’ve done it!

CRUZ: But I have done it because I believe that a majority of the
justices are not honoring their judicial oaths. And…

MATTHEWS: Is that the solution, elections?

CRUZ: Look, if unelected judges are going to seize every major policy
issue of this country — you know, there was a time…

CRUZ: They seized the presidency in 2000 and you did not complain!
The Supreme Court said no to the state of Florida. You can`t recount!
Even though it`s a close election, you are not allowed to recount. We`re
giving this to our guy, 5 to 4 Republican vote in the Supreme Court. If
there was ever a case of partisanship or ideology getting out of hand, it
was 2000, and you loved it!

CRUZ: Chris…

MATTHEWS: You loved it! You were cheering, you said in the book!

CRUZ: Chris, those are great talking points.

MATTHEWS: But they`re true.

CRUZ: How many times did they count the ballots in Florida?

MATTHEWS: Four.

CRUZ: Four times. How many times did Bush win?

MATTHEWS: Four times.

CRUZ: Four times.

MATTHEWS: They wanted to try it one more time.

CRUZ: Yes, the…

MATTHEWS: Aren`t states allowed to do that?

CRUZ: The Democrats’ strategy was, “We`re going to keep counting and
counting and counting and counting, and eventually, maybe enough people
will cheat and somehow our guy will win.” After four times…

MATTHEWS: How do you know they’re going to cheat?

CRUZ: After four times…

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. I just think it`s a case of states rights, which
you usually champion, and equal protection, which is the first time in the
history Republicans championed equal protection, and then they`ve lost
interest in it now…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: … marriage equality.

CRUZ: I describe how the first time the Supreme Court unanimously
vacated what the Florida supreme court…

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

CRUZ: … did when it came down — you know what the Florida Supreme
Court did?

MATTHEWS: Right.

CRUZ: It told the U.S. Supreme Court go jump in a lake, didn`t even
cite its opinion!

MATTHEWS: I know, but they…

MATTHEWS: They wanted to continue with the recount under the decision
of the Legislature.

CRUZ: It was partisan defiance of the court. And frankly, what the
Florida Supreme Court did in the Bush versus Gore recount is the same thing
the U.S. Supreme Court did with “Obama care.”

Finally, Trump on The Simpsons.

As you will recall, Cruz recently  “auditioned” to replace Harry Shearer as a voice of many of the most beloved characters on The Simpsons.

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But, since then, Shearer’s back in the fold.

And if Cruz’s love for The Simpsons might have seemed unlikely, what to make of Cruz’s continued affection for Trump – brash, bold and well-backboned – even as he questions Cruz’s natural-born bona fides.

Why?

Philip Bump offered a cogent theory the other day at the Washington Post on Why Ted Cruz is defending Donald Trump.

As anyone who has written critically about Trump can tell you, he’s very quickly built up a vocal base of support on this issue — a base of support that will be looking for a home if and when Trump bails.

And Cruz will greet them with arms wide open.

Gallup polling from in September 2014 showed that the group most concerned about immigration was conservatives. Seventy-six percent of that group considered immigration “extremely” or “very” important to their vote last November, compared to 58 percent of moderates and 59 percent of liberals (although the reason immigration was so important to each group almost certainly differed). Unlike Bush or Rubio, Cruz is well-positioned to appeal to those conservative voters.

Unlike other candidates who might similarly want that support, Cruz is relatively immune to the racial overtones of the issue. Cruz is Hispanic, of course, and the son of immigrants himself. While his family isn’t from Mexico, his comments in support of Trump have been in support of the man and the big-picture issue, not the specifics of Trump’s critique, which are very difficult to defend if you look at the facts. Cruz likely has the luxury of worrying far less about the general election repercussions of bashing illegal immigration than, say, Bush.

It doesn’t take much imagination to envision a scene a few weeks from now in which Trump, for reasons ostensibly beyond his control, announces that he’s not going to run after all. And shortly thereafter, throwing his arm around Cruz to offer some support. “I respect Ted Cruz for the view he’s got,” Trump said on CNN last week. “He was really out there and strong on it.”

“I shouldn’t say this,” Trump continued, “because, I assume, he’s an opponent, but the fact is he was very brave in coming out.”

It’s not hard to see Cruz e-mailing those words out to everyone on Donald Trump’s yuge, classy e-mail list.

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