OPINION

Nelson Balido: Voters are starting to see through the fog of politics

Donald Trump (izq) discute con Ted Cruz durante el debate de los aspirantes republicanos a la nominación presidencial el 14 de enero del 2016 en North Charleston, Carolina del Sur. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Donald Trump (izq) discute con Ted Cruz durante el debate de los aspirantes republicanos a la nominación presidencial el 14 de enero del 2016 en North Charleston, Carolina del Sur. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

The American voter is much savvier than politicos on both sides of the aisle give us credit for; we just need some straight talk to clear the air.

At the 2016 GOP debate in South Carolina, the top seven candidates squared off and tried to leave it all on the field—and what was left was in many cases just hollow rhetoric. The morning after, every journalist is picking the low-hanging fruit of “fact checking” the debate. A more important exercise is deciphering who was offering real substance and who was just spinning in a maelstrom of cleverly crafted attacks. 

The Schumer-Rubio Amnesty Bill was a flop on all points, and the authors need to own it. The fact is, you cannot fight for something as long as Rubio did and then decide to be against it. Bottom line: Rubio stands for amnesty.

- Nelson Balido

Let’s take a few of last night’s talking points and see who is still standing when the facts are down.

How does one become an American?

There are only two ways to become a U.S. citizen: 1. You are natural born, or 2. You are naturalized. The naturalization process begins with a resident visa and then evolves into an application for citizenship. (It’s a process my own parents went through). At the debate, Donald Trump threw some mud by suggesting that, if nominated, Sen. Cruz would be sued for ineligibility for the highest office in the land.

We know that Sen. Ted Cruz did not go through a naturalization process, because he didn’t need to. His mother is an American, and so he is an American, natural born. Sec. 1, Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution lays out the requirements for eligibility, and the notion of “natural born” was designed to prevent someone from another country immigrating to the United States, becoming president and then re-directing American power in support of the immigrant’s mother country. When born American, the Founding Fathers wisely knew, one’s allegiance is purely to the United States.

The more fundamental question here is: does anyone really believe the natural-born Constitutional scholar from Texas has an allegiance to any country other than the United States? The Founding Fathers would be just fine with a Cruz presidency, by both the letter and the spirit of the law.

The birther issue is simply a non-issue. The only reason Trump brings it up is because he is starting to lag in the polls—a fact he admitted himself during the debate. He has to do better than this!  

How does an illegal immigrant become an American?

They don’t, although Sen. Marco Rubio has tried to change that. The 2013 Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill, crafted by Sen. Rubio and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, included a path to citizenship for more than 11 million people living in the United States illegally. This opportunity for amnesty was disguised within the almost indecipherable legalese of congressional law, but it didn’t make it off the Senate floor because you can’t kid a kidder, as they say. Other Senators fought it and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives didn’t touch it.

But Sen. Rubio keeps on spinning, claiming he’s not the only one who supports a path to citizenship…except he is the only Senator on the GOP stage who supports amnesty. It’s the best he can muster because he can’t walk this one back in the face of changing poll numbers and voter priorities. Other candidates (Sen. Cruz is a good example) have a strong, clear perspective: the United States will enforce its laws, not change them just to suit the political persuasions of the left.

The Schumer-Rubio Amnesty Bill was a flop on all points, and the authors need to own it. The fact is, you cannot fight for something as long as Rubio did and then decide to be against it. Bottom line: Rubio stands for amnesty.

How did a New York Times reporter sneak onto the stage?

There was an eighth political force at Thursday’s debate—it was the liberal left,  which came in the form of The New York Times’ Mike McIntire and his truly underhanded jab at Sen. Cruz over campaign funding disclosure during his 2012 run for the U.S. Senate. The Times’ reporting on campaign disclosures is worth calling out, not in defense of Sen. Cruz but in criticism of the reporter and his employer (as well as whoever put him up to the political “hit job”).

The truth of it is that The Times was telling half-truths. The article says a loan to Sen. Cruz from Goldman Sachs (obtained by leveraging the net worth of the Cruz family) was not reported on the appropriate FEC form. On the face of it, one might think the Texas Senator was somehow hiding his financial situation. But the other half of the story (which McIntire barely mentions) is that Cruz did disclose the loan on his arguably more important financial disclosures to the U.S. Senate.

In other words, this loan has been on the public record for years, and Cruz is already rectifying the clerical error that became moot after he won the election. That article does not serve the public interest; it only boosts the ego of the reporter and the ongoing attacks of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

I wonder which campaign researched and dropped this one? I suspect Rubio or Trump. Trying to make something from nothing in an effort to cloud realities is a sure sign of desperation.  

The greatest truth of Thursday night

The one thing on which everyone agreed is that a Hillary Clinton Administration would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States. The list of reasons for this is too long to explain here, but there are a couple key points worth stating.

First, the FBI will almost certainly recommend a criminal indictment against Mrs. Clinton. The FBI does not dedicate 100 agents full-time to an investigation unless there is fire as well as smoke, and in this case, it is a raging forest fire. Many indisputable facts have already emerged showing distinctly un-presidential and likely criminal actions by the former Secretary of State. Whether Attorney General Loretta Lynch will shirk her legal obligations and kowtow to the political winds will dictate if a criminal indictment follows. To be sure, however, if the FBI recommends an indictment and the Obama administration rejects it, there will be an enormous backlash that will shake the very foundations of the Executive Office.

Second, Mrs. Clinton’s proposed platforms are a carbon copy of President Obama’s. The middle class has been absolutely hammered by this administration. U.S. businesses are barely surviving beneath the mountain of regulations bureaucrats are meting out at a breakneck pace. And the White House, by way of Secretary of State John Kerry, is actually thanking Iran for putting our sailors on their knees at gunpoint; this while also doing the bare minimum to combat ISIS. We cannot afford another four years of this.

The time has come to choose a fighter that is honest, talks straight and follows through. There is more debating and mud-slinging coming. This isn’t over by a long shot. But the voting public is starting to see through the fog, and talking points can only go so far. This has turned into a two-man race, and the GOP candidate who sticks to the issues and speaks with consistent credibility may well be the only one left standing on solid ground. So far, I have to give it to Ted Cruz.

Nelson Balido is the managing principal at Balido and Associates, chairman of the Border Commerce and Security Council, and former member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.  Follow him on Twitter: @nelsonbalido

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