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Is The White House Worried That Ted Cruz Might 'Repeal' Common Core?

The pundits keep calling Ted Cruz "brilliant," so Banter White House correspondent Tommy Christopher double-checked with the White House to see if Cruz knows something about Common Core that the rest of us don't.

Senator and future Republican presidential debate fireworks display Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been a hot topic this week since announcing his bid for president, and nowhere has he been hotter than the White House briefing room. Press Secretary Josh Earnest has been careful about commenting on Cruz's various political positions, but Cruz's promise to "repeal every word of Common Core" had me worried, so at Wednesday's briefing, I asked Earnest if this was possible, if Ted Cruz could somehow repeal something that is not actually a law, or even mandatory:

Tommy Christopher: Thanks, Josh. I have two questions for you. First of all, Senator Ted Cruz -- I know you’ve been fielding a lot of questions about him. He recently said that he wants to repeal Common Core, every word of Common Core. Am I mistaken? I didn’t think Common Core was a federal law?

Josh Earnest: I’ve seen some others make that observation. But, again, I have been pretty disciplined about not responding to the various claims of potential candidates for President. I guess he is the first candidate for President. And so I’m not going to be in a position to respond to any of those claims at this point.

Tommy Christopher: But, I mean, Common Core -- is that correct, Common Core is not something that can be repealed?

Josh Earnest:: We can look into that for you.

Alas, Earnest wasn't in a generous mood, but it's nice to know that the liberal blogosphere is not toiling in vain. After the briefing, a White House official did send me the following statement:

"I want to be really clear: common core is not a federal program. It is driven and implemented by those states that choose to participate. It is also not a federal curriculum; in fact, it's not a curriculum at all. Local educators and school districts will still design the best lesson plans, will chose appropriate textbooks, and will drive classroom learning."

That statement, of course, is originally from Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who was for Common Core before she was against it, but the truth of what she said can't flip-flop. You could head over to ThinkProgress for an explainer on Common Core, but Governor Fallin laid it out perfectly, and if that doesn't do it, just ask Jeb Bush about it.

As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan noted in a briefing last June, the only thing that has changed about Common Core is the politics. Well, that and the kinds of educational standards they want in Oklahoma, which now consist of the Eleven Commandments (ten plus Reagan's 11th).

The allegedly brilliant Cruz either doesn't know what Common Core is, or he's counting on conservative Republican base voters not to know any better. Honestly, that's kind o a tossup.

Elsewhere in the briefing, Earnest also declined to relish in the irony of Cruz's impending enrollment in Obamacare, instead extolling the virtues of the program in the broadest terms.