The new polls have shifted the balance of power in the 2016 GOP primaries right before Tuesday's CNN GOP debate and Senator Ted Cruz has solidly jumped into the #2 spot behind Donald Trump. Reacting to this news, Sen. Marco Rubio went on the offensive against Cruz on Meet The Press and told Chuck Todd that Cruz's rhetoric hasn't matched up with his voting record in the Senate and painted him as a Rand Paul wannabe when it comes to national security and foreign policy.
CHUCK TODD: Your campaign has been pretty critical of one of your rivals, Senator Ted Cruz, for his vote on the U.S.A. Freedom Act. And Senator Mike Lee of Utah, somebody that you have a tax plan with, you guys are certainly allies on a lot of things, he has said that your rhetoric has been not based in fact and that it is not true, what you've been saying, that somehow federal officials can't use the U.S.A. Freedom Act, use the courts to track the phone numbers that are necessary.
MARCO RUBIO: Well on this issue, not only is he wrong, but others that argue that are wrong. We had a program that allowed us to collect the phone records, basically the phone bill. Not the content of your conversations or your emails or anything like that. Just your phone bill of every American. And it was stored.
Only 16 people in the U.S. government could look at that. And they could only look at it if they got a court order from a privacy court, from a FISA court to go in and look at those phone records. And they retained them for a significant period of time. Under this new law, we are trusting the phone companies to hold those records.
And all of these phone companies have different periods of time that they hold it. Some will hold it for 18 months. Some will hold it for six months. This is a valuable tool. If in fact you have identified someone as a potential terrorist or if in fact someone carries out a terrorist activity, the ability to look at who they've been calling and who they've been talking to is part of a larger puzzle that you can put together to see what network they've been working with, who they've been communicating with.
We have now lost that capacity in many cases.
CHUCK TODD: So is this a commander-in-chief test for Senator Cruz?
MARCO RUBIO: I believe it is for all of the candidates. In the case of Senator Cruz, my argument is it wasn't just the intelligence vote. I mean, he talks tough on some of these issues. For example, he was going to carpet bomb ISIS. But the only budget he's ever voted for in his time in the Senate is a budget that cut defense spending by more than Barack Obama proposes we cut it.
He voted against the Defense Authorization Act every year that it came up. And that is the bill and I assume that if he voted against it, he would veto it as president. That's the bill that funds our troops. Even the Iron Dome for Israel. So I guess my point is each time he's had to choose between strong national defense and some of the isolationist tendencies in American politics, he seems to side with the isolationist. And this is an important issue to have a debate over. It's not personal.
The GOP primary race is finally starting to heat up as the frontrunners are taking aim at each other. If Blitzer doesn't choke as a moderator, Tuesday should be a big bowl of Twitter fun.