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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Ted Cruz whips up immigration hardliners at Orlando rally

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during the Sunshine Summit conference in Orlando on Friday.

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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during the Sunshine Summit conference in Orlando on Friday.



ORLANDO - Sen. Ted Cruz used a rally here to outline a hardline immigration plan, lashing out at Marco Rubio and others he sees as too moderate on the issue.

“Wow! Wow! God bless the state of Florida. Florida is alive and rockin,’ ” Cruz said as he walked onto the stage at Faith Assembly of God, not long after he appeared at the Sunshine Summit across town.

The brash talking Texan denounced an “unholy alliance” between K Street and Wall Street, aided by "establishment Republicans" who want cheap labor. “None of them are losing their jobs to an illegal immigrant,” Cruz said to cheers.

Several hundred people attended the rally, underscoring how Florida is not a given for Rubio or Jeb Bush, and how illegal immigration remains a potent issue among conservative activists.

Cruz outlined an immigration plan that begins with building "a wall that works" and tripling the number of Border Patrol agents. It would calls for "aerial surveillance and other technology" to "find and detain all illegal entrants." He vowed to end "sanctuary cities," leading the crowd to stand and chant, "Cruz, Cruz, Cruz."

He got another standing ovation when he called for an end to "birthright citizenship," and elicited howls for accusing President Obama of having time for "Ahmed the clock kid," but not to address the death of Kate Steinle, who was shot to death in San Francisco by a man who had been deported several times.

Cruz's speech carried the implicit attack on Rubio, whom he did not name. At one point he accused Rubio of giving one response on immigration policy when speaking in Spanish and another in English -- a charge Rubio's team denounced as false.

Cruz and Rubio have battled over the past two days and Rubio has noted that Cruz supported an expansion of the H-1B visa program for workers. Cruz on Friday told the church audience that he no longer did, saying corporations such as Disney have exploited it and took jobs from Americans.

“Whether it is Isis or Ebola," Cruz said, "our ability to detect who is coming into this country and threatening the people of American is negligible as long as the federal government is not securing the borders.”

[Last modified: Friday, November 13, 2015 7:47pm]


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