Ted Cruz was the center of attention during the latest Republican presidential primary debate on Thursday night as he confronted Marco Rubio and Donald Trump on several issues.

Cruz & Rubio's Immigration Record

Rubio was questioned about his 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, specifically the provision granting another 10 million people with green cards. Rubio said his focus has been America's security and ensuring people enter the U.S. legally. Rubio said radical jihadists groups are manipulating the U.S. immigration system and are aware of vulnerabilities on the southern border. He admitted his thinking on immigration has changes between the last 24-36 months as a result of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group's growth.

"They (ISIS) have a sophisticated understanding of our legal immigration system and we now have an obligation to ensure that they are not able to use that system against us," said Rubio. "The entire system of legal immigration must now be reexamined for security first and foremost, with an eye on ISIS."

Cruz, however, said Islamic terrorism was not created 24 months ago, as groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas and Hezbollah existed long before. He also defended his stance on the 2013 immigration bill -- voting against the bipartisan bill that included a pathway to citizenship.

Rubio hit back, saying, "Ted Cruz, you used to say you supported doubling the number of green cards, now you say that you're against it. You used to support a 500 percent increase in the number of guest workers, now you say that you're against it. You used to support legalizing people that were here illegally, now you say you're against it. You used to say that you were in favor of birthright citizenship, now you say that you are against it."

Rubio said Cruz's platforms have switched due to politics and to appeal specific voters.

"That is not consistent conservatism, that is political calculation," Rubio later added.

Cruz said he appreciates Rubio for "dumping" research on the debate stage. Rubio responded with, "No, it's your record." Cruz said Rubio supports legalization and citizenship for 12 million undocumented immigrants, or "illegals" as the Texas senator said. Cruz reiterated his opposition to both legalization and citizenship status for undocumented populations.

New York Values vs. Iowa Values

Prior to the Fox Business Network debate, Cruz had criticized Trump for embodying New York values instead of Iowa values. When asked to clarify, Cruz said while there are "many wonderful" people in New York, everyone understands that "the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro- gay-marriage, focus around money and the media."

Cruz added that not too many conservatives come from Manhattan. "I'm just saying," continued Cruz.

Trump hit back at Cruz, while evoking the World Trade Center attacks as an example of New Yorkers having values.

"Conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan ... if I could, because he insulted a lot of people. I've had more calls on that statement that Ted made -- New York is a great place. It's got great people, it's got loving people, wonderful people.

Trump said when the World Trade Center came down on Sept. 11, 2001, he saw something no other place in the world could have handled more beautifully or more humanely than New York.

"I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup, probably in the history of doing this, and in construction. ... And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death -- nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made."

Cruz's U.S. Citizen Status

Recently, Trump questioned whether or not Cruz is a legal citizen of the U.S., since the Texas senator was born in Canada but his mother was a U.S. citizen. At the debate, Cruz said Trump previously had no problem with the "birther issue" last September.

"Now, since September, the Constitution hasn't changed, but the poll numbers have," Cruz said, adding that Trump is dismayed with declining polling numbers and such theory would technically disqualify many fellow Republican presidential candidates such as Rubio and even Trump - because Trump's mother was born in Scotland, although Trump was born in the U.S.

Trump defended his first place spot in numerous polling data and that he does not care about Cruz's citizenship but questioned it because of potential litigation the Democratic Party could pursue. Trump did admit, however, that he has raised the birther issue because Cruz is "doing a little bit better."

Temporary Muslim Ban

Trump has previously called for a temporary ban of Muslim immigration into the U.S. in order to confront terrorism. During the debate, the other Republican candidates were asked if they support Trump's message. John Kasich and Chris Christie favored a ban of Syrian refugees, while Cruz reiterated his Senate work to suspend refugees coming into the U.S. from countries where terrorism is ongoing. Trump defended his plan, emphasizing it's only a temporary situation.

"I want security. I'm tired of seeing what's going on, between the border where the people flow over; people come in; they live; they shoot. I want security for this country. We have a serious problem with, as you know, with radical Islam. We have a tremendous problem. It's not only a problem here. It's a problem all over the world."


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