- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said a new ad hitting him on national security is evidence that Sen. Marco Rubio’s allies are “very, very nervous” about Mr. Cruz’s rise in recent polling on the 2016 GOP nomination contest.

An outside group has gone on the air in Iowa with an ad that said Mr. Cruz “voted to weaken America’s ability to identify and hunt down terrorists.” That’s a reference to Mr. Cruz’s support for the USA Freedom Act - a bill to halt the government’s bulk data collection program.

“I have to say my first reaction when I saw the attack ad was to chuckle,” Mr. Cruz told radio host Hugh Hewitt this week. “I don’t think it is an attack that is going to work. I think it is a substantively false attack.”

Sean Noble, the founder of the group American Encore, which is behind the ad, has said he is personally backing Mr. Rubio, though his group is not, according to Politico.

“And I think the reason that Rubio’s allies have resorted to false attack ads is they are very, very nervous about our surge in the polls, about the fact that conservatives are uniting behind our campaign, and they’re even more nervous about all the scrutiny that people are focusing on Marco Rubio’s longtime partnership with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer pushing a massive amnesty plan,” Mr. Cruz said.

Mr. Cruz also said the bill actually strengthens the ability to “go after the bad guys.”

“That’s why the Rubio PAC ad is false and knowingly false. And I think their efforts to change the topic from Rubio’s longtime support of amnesty, I don’t think that’s going to be successful,” he said.

Mr. Rubio, though, has defended such programs as tools to keep the country safer.

“There are Republicans, including Senator Cruz, that have voted to weaken those programs,” Mr. Rubio, Florida Republican, said on Monday’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” on Fox News. “That’s just a part of the record - it’s nothing personal.”

Mr. Rubio also said Mr. Cruz’s position on immigration is “not much different” than his own position.

The issues of surveillance, the phone metadata program and national security have split the 2016 GOP field. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, for example, voted against the USA Freedom Act, but he said he wanted it to go even further.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, meanwhile, has defended the metadata program.

Asked Tuesday if Mr. Cruz has made America less safe, Mr. Christie said: “Sure he has.”

“He went for the easy political vote at a time when it looked like it was kind of a popular thing to do,” Mr. Christie said. “With all those dead Parisians, it doesn’t look so popular anymore.”

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