But as the competition for the GOP crown heats up ahead of first votes in Iowa on Feb. 1, Cruz opponents are likely to point out that he’s backed down under pressure from the right flank of his party and otherwise altered longstanding positions multiple times. In June, Cruz abandoned support for Trade Promotion Authority; just last week he dropped support for increasing the amount of H1-B immigration visas made available to high-skilled workers.
And, while Cruz has been a strong proponent of beefing up border security and withholding citizenship from illegal immigrants, his tone when discussing the topic has changed since Republican front-runner Donald Trump became a fixture atop the polls. Before Trump, Cruz emphasized his support for streamlining and encouraging legal immigration. Post-Trump, Cruz has highlighted his opposition to birthright citizenship, itself the product of a flip-flop that is a couple of years old.
Cruz’s occasional changes of heart are hardly unique among Republicans vying for the nomination, nor are they rampant. But Cruz’s central line of attack against his competitors is that they all talk a good game but can’t be trusted as much as him to tow the conservative line if elected president. That makes Cruz’s flexibility on issues potentially riskier, as it could undercut the main theme driving his candidacy if skillfully exploited by an opponent.