Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly pressed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on his record on immigration during Thursday night’s debate, forcing the candidate to go on the defensive after playing video of Rubio saying he opposes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The lead-in featured clips of Rubio saying an “earned path to citizenship is basically code for amnesty,” a policy he said he “never will support,” despite his role pushing for a path to citizenship in the Senate.
“Haven’t you already proven you cannot be trusted on this issue?” Kelly asked.
“No because if you look at the quote, it’s very specific, it says ‘blanket amnesty.’ I do not support blanket legalization –” Rubio began.
Kelly interrupted: “You said more than that, sir.”
“No, I said I do not support blanket legalization,” he said.
“You said earned path to citizenship is basically code for amnesty. You supported an earned path to citizenship,” Kelly responded.
“It absolutely has been,” Rubio attempted to clarify. “At the time and context of that was in 2009 and 2010 where the last effort for legalization was an effort done in the Senate, an effort led by several people that provided almost an instant path, with very little obstacles moving forward.”
He went on to say that fixing immigration should involve “keep[ing] ISIS out of America” and securing the borders.
Rubio’s critics have repeatedly hit him for “flip flopping” on the issue of immigration. He was one of the “gang of eight” senators who drafted a plan for comprehensive immigration reform in early 2013, which included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But by October 2013, Rubio had publicly backed away from the legislation when it came under fire from Republicans.