Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhite House to convene social media summit after new Trump attacks GOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats O'Rourke on Senate bid backer Beyoncé: I will have to 'earn her support' for 2020 MORE on Tuesday night politely complimented GOP presidential rival Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats Mellman: Are primary debates different? Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court MORE as a “charming” communicator, and then he laid into him as wrong on national security, weak on immigration and a shill for corporate lobbyists.

“If you look at Sen. Rubio’s record — he’s someone who I like personally, he’s a friend of mine,” Cruz (Texas) said on Fox News’s "Hannity." “He’s a very, very charming and effective communicator. But if you look at his policy record, there’s a big difference between his record and mine.”


Cruz then launched into a broadside against Rubio, most notably in a new line of attack that sought to tie the Florida senator to Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again Don't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates Ocasio-Cortez on Biden: 'I think that he's not a pragmatic choice' MORE, saying both are in the pockets of “special interests.”

“People are fed up with the Washington cartel … the career politicians in both parties that get in bed with the special interests and grow and grow and grow government,” Cruz said.

“And those [career politicians] are very dismayed that a president might come in who is actually a conservative that will stop the corporate welfare. Listen, there’s a reason that the lobbyists are all supporting Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. There’s a reason the lobbyists are not supporting my campaign.”

Cruz and Rubio have begun openly warring as both men rise in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The freshman senators are essentially tied in the RealClearPolitics national average of polls, taking third and fourth place behind Donald TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again MORE and Ben Carson.

As they’ve gained in the race, they’ve have sought to draw distinctions between their records on immigration and national security.

The Rubio campaign has accused Cruz of dodging questions about whether he supports a pathway to legalization for those in the country illegally. Cruz has said that problem can’t be addressed until the border is secure and criminal illegal immigrants are deported.

Cruz, meanwhile, consistently points to Rubio’s support for the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, which included a pathway to citizenship.

On Tuesday night, Cruz repeatedly referred to the “Schumer-Rubio amnesty plan,” referencing the Democratic New York senator.

“Back in 2013, when President Obama and Chuck Schumer joined with establishment Republicans in pushing a massive amnesty plan, Sen. Rubio led that fight,” Cruz said. “He stood right there along side Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama. Indeed, it was the Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan.”

“I made a very different decision,” Cruz continued. “I stood alongside [Sens.] Jeff Sessions and Steve King and fought against amnesty to secure the border, and we ended up defeating the Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan. I am the only candidate on that debate stage who never supported amnesty and who led the fight to defeat amnesty when it was before Congress.”

Rubio, meanwhile, has attacked Cruz for supporting the USA Freedom Act earlier this year, which reined in the National Security Agency’s meta-data collection program.

“I stand strongly on behalf of the ability of this government to gather intelligence on our adversaries and enemies, especially terrorists, but also other nation states, those keep us safer,” Rubio has said. “There are Republicans, including Sen. Cruz, who voted to weaken those programs. That’s just a part of the record. It’s nothing personal.”

A super-PAC supporting Rubio has made a similar claim in ads running in Iowa.

“These attack ads are false, and Marco knows they’re false,” Cruz said. “He’s trying to suggest somehow that I’m responsible for the terror attack in Paris, and it’s silly. It’s the natural thing a campaign does when they’re nervous and see conservatives uniting behind our campaign.”

Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have similarly gone after Cruz for his vote on the USA Freedom Act.

“He went for the easy political vote at a time when it was a popular thing to do,” Christie said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier this week. “With all those dead Parisians it doesn’t look so popular anymore.”

Cruz has defended his vote, saying the USA Freedom Act strengthened the government’s ability to track terrorists while protecting the privacy of ordinary citizens.

“Marco knows that … he thinks we’d be safer if the federal government seized your phone records and mine. I don’t think that’s right,” said Cruz.