Cruz warns GOP support for expanded background checks could help elect Warren president

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDemocrats sharpen case on second day of arguments What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats' impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters MORE (R-Texas) on Thursday warned that if President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE strikes a compromise with Democrats to expand background checks for gun purchases along the lines of the 2013 proposal from Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.), it would demoralize conservative voters and help Democrats capture the White House in 2020.

“If Republicans abandon the Second Amendment and demoralize millions of Americans who care deeply about Second Amendment rights, that could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris weighing Biden endorsement: report Biden, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll MORE,” Cruz said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor when asked about the prospect of Trump endorsing a modified version of Manchin-Toomey, which would require background checks for all firearms sales over the internet or at gun shows.

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Cruz warned that if conservatives aren’t motivated ahead of the 2020 election, a liberal Democrat such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) would have a much better chance of winning.

“We’re going to see record-shattering Democratic turnout. The only element missing to ensure Democratic victory is demoralizing conservatives so they stay home. I hope we don’t do that. I think that would be a serious mistake,” Cruz said in response to speculation that Trump may strike a deal with Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Nadler gets under GOP's skin Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial MORE (D-Conn.), Manchin and Toomey to significantly expand background check requirements.

“It would also be a serious mistake as a policy matter. The Democrats’ proposal would not have prevented any of these mass murders. We ought to be focusing seriously, substantively on how you stop these horrific crimes and what they’re proposing wouldn’t do it,” he added.

Cruz said he’s not opposed to strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and is pushing a bill co-sponsored with Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump to sign USMCA next Wednesday Trump administration releases rule to restrict 'birth tourism' On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Grassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk | Union membership falls to record low | Manufacturers want Trump tax provision made permanent | Warren presses banks on climate plans MORE (R-Iowa), that would improve and reauthorize grants for the database, increase federal prosecution of gun violence, and criminalize the straw purchasing of firearms and gun trafficking.

“What I’m proposing has a far greater likelihood of preventing these kinds of crimes,” he said.

Cruz said he’s open to the president striking a deal on strengthening background checks, but warned against a proposal along the lines of the 2013 Manchin-Toomey amendment, which would expand background checks to all gun show and internet sales but exempt sales between family members and friends.

Democratic leaders in Congress, however, say that at a minimum any gun violence bill that comes to the Senate floor must significantly expand required background checks along the lines of H.R. 8, the bill the House passed in February.

“Background checks are the base from which we must do everything,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer urges declassification of letter from Pence aide No rush to judgment on Trump — it's been ongoing since Election Day Collins walks impeachment tightrope MORE (N.Y.) said Monday. “In our view, it’s paramount to pass the House bill as part of any gun safety package because it would sew up the most egregious loopholes that allow criminals, the adjudicated mentally ill [and] spousal abusers to get guns."

Cruz said Thursday that dramatically expanding the universe of firearms sales subject to background checks could require a national gun registry.

“If you mandate every private person-to-person sale has to be subject to a background check, the immediate next question is how do you implement it and the only way to implement that is with a federal gun registry,” Cruz said when asked about Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s (R) proposal to require background checks for all stranger-to-stranger firearms transactions.

He said a national firearms registry is likely “the objective of many of the congressional Democrats” pushing universal background checks.

Cruz said “the approach that I’m pushing, focus on the felons, the fugitives, those with dangerous mental illnesses, that would prevent far more of these mass murders while at the same time protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”