Georgia Democrats draw a line between Ted Cruz and Alabama segregationist

The Democratic Party of Georgia sees parallels between Ted Cruz's comments about illegal immigrants and the rhetoric from a notorious Alabama segregationist.

Party spokesman Michael Smith said the Republican presidential candidate's remarks in Kennesaw Friday, in which he vowed to oppose granting illegal immigrants U.S. citizenship "today, tomorrow, forever," is alarming and inexcusable.

"But to trot out that line in Georgia — the cradle of the civil rights movement — is downright detestable," said Smith. "This kind of ugly, xenophobic throwback to a much darker time in Southern politics has no place in our discourse and certainly has no place in the state of Georgia."

He was trying to draw a line between Cruz's comments and the infamous 1963 speech by Alabama Gov. George Wallace that declared: “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Some Republicans raised a red flag as well. Mike Hassinger, a Georgia GOP consultant and an editor of the conservative-leaning Peach Pundit site, called it a "politically expedient" attempt to outflank frontrunner Donald Trump that fell flat. 

"While Ted Cruz may want to hide the fact that he once was for ‘amnesty,’ using a famous Democrat’s infamous racism isn’t how you convince genuine Republicans that you’re presidential," said Hassinger. "Cruz evoked George Wallace while articulating his flip-flop on amnesty, in a naked attempt to appeal to the most racist elements of America." 

Cruz' comments came in response to a New York Times report on a 1999 memo  from Cruz urging his then-boss, George W. Bush, to take a more nuanced approach to the immigration debate.

The memo advised Bush to answer “not at this time” when asked if he supported amnesty for illegal immigrants living in the country. It recommended he “consider all options when trying to resolve our immigration problem and what to do with the millions of illegal immigrants already living here.”

When asked Friday if that memo was a liability in the general election, Cruz was blunt.

“My position is very simple," he told reporters before a rally at an airport hangar that attracted more than 1,000 people. "I oppose amnesty. I oppose citizenship. I oppose legalization … Today, tomorrow, forever. I believe in the rule of law.”

Read more about Cruz – and his Southern strategy – by clicking here.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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