Rand Paul takes veiled swipe at Ted Cruz over foreign policy
March 10th, 2014
01:01 PM ET
6 years ago

Rand Paul takes veiled swipe at Ted Cruz over foreign policy

(CNN) – Recent tension between Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz flared on Monday after Paul doubled-down in his criticism of Cruz's rhetoric.

"I will remind anyone who thinks we will win elections by trashing previous Republican nominees or holding oneself out as some paragon in the mold of (Ronald) Reagan, that splintering the party is not the route to victory," the Kentucky Republican wrote in an opinion piece for Breitbart.com.

His op-ed followed comments by Cruz in an interview on Sunday highlighting his disagreement with Paul, who's known for his libertarian views, on foreign policy. But Cruz didn't go into specifics.

"I don't agree with him on foreign policy. I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world. And I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad," Cruz said on ABC's "This Week," referring to the crisis in Ukraine. "But I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did."

The Texas Republican went on to invoke Reagan's declaration of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" and recalled the moment the former President stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin in 1987 and said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

"Those words changed the course of history," Cruz added. "The United States has a responsibility to defend our values."

But Paul argued Monday that too many Republicans are distorting Reagan's views on foreign policy and national defense, though he didn't specifically name Cruz.

While Reagan adhered to a policy of "peace through strength," Paul said, he also relied on "shrewd diplomacy" to de-escalate nuclear tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.

"Today, we forget that some of the Republican hawks of his time criticized Reagan harshly … calling him an appeaser," he wrote.

Paul also pointed to the moment when Reagan withdrew U.S. forces after 241 Marines were killed in 1983 by a truck bomb at a compound in Lebanon. Paul wrote that rather than sending in more forces, Reagan realized "the cost of American lives was too great for the mission."

With a history of non-interventionist views that have irked establishment Republicans, Paul argued that Republicans are all essentially in agreement on most of the diplomatic and other measures taken to isolate Russia over its intervention in Ukraine, including threatened sanctions.

"Yet, some politicians have used this time to beat their chest. What we don't need right now is politicians who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers," Paul wrote.

He later added that "today's Republicans should concentrate on establishing their own identities and agendas, as opposed to simply latching onto Ronald Reagan's legacy-or worse, misrepresenting it."

A number of Republicans invoked Reagan during last week's Conservative Political Action Committee, with most suggesting that the 40th President would be a stronger leader against Russian President Vladimir Putin than President Barack Obama. But no one suggested that America should put boots on the ground.

Paul attempting to clarify his foreign policy views

In a separate opinion piece for TIME.com, published Sunday, Paul also argued that Obama has failed to project Reagan's "peace through strength" policy, and he called for the United States to be even more aggressive on its diplomatic efforts relating to Russia.

"It is our role as a global leader to be the strongest nation in opposing Russia’s latest aggression," he wrote.

But he still ripped some of his colleagues for what he sees as a misinterpretation of Reagan's views. "What some American leaders, including some in my own party, often forget is that lasting peace was always Reagan's ultimate objective."

Paul's comments come in an apparent effort to boost his foreign policy credentials as the libertarian seriously considers a 2016 presidential bid.

His more recent remarks seem to offer a departure from some of his initial comments about the crisis in Ukraine. Paul told The Washington Post last month as the crisis was unfolding that Republicans are too often trying to “tweak Russia.”

"Some on our side are so stuck in the Cold War era, they want to tweak Russia all the time, and I don't think that's a good idea,” he said.

The comment caused a stir among more hawkish members of the party, who painted it as another example where Paul is an outlier when it comes to national security and foreign policy.

Stage getting set for 2016?

Paul and Cruz, who's also mulling a presidential bid, normally line up on a range of issues. They were both elected with strong tea party support and have vowed to shake things up in Washington.

But Paul seems to think Cruz is taking the wrong approach by criticizing his fellow Republicans. Since he was elected in 2012, Cruz has repeatedly stood up to the GOP's Old Guard in the Senate and some still blame him for igniting the fiasco that ultimately led to last year's government shutdown.

Cruz saw sharp pushback last week, for example, when he brought up the three most recent unsuccessful GOP presidential nominees– Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney– in his speech at CPAC and argued they lost because they didn't "stand for principle."

His comment drew strong rebuke from McCain and Dole, and Paul piled on during an interview on "Fox News Sunday."

"Everybody has their own style," Paul said when asked about Cruz's comments, but he added, "I don't spend a lot of time trying to drag people down."

"Can we do things different to get the party bigger? There's always ways we can get bigger, particularly when we don't win," he continued. "But I don't spend any time sort of trying to criticize others in the party, because I realize the party has to be bigger, not smaller."

In a response to a CNN inquiry about Paul's comments, Cruz called his Republican counterpart a "courageous voice for liberty" and that he would not help engender further divisions within his party.

"Although some would like to play up divisions among Republicans, I have no desire to play their game." Cruz said in a statement. "Rand Paul is a courageous voice for liberty, and I’m honored to call him my friend."

"We do not agree on everything, especially regarding foreign policy," the Texas Republican added," but we have agreed on the vast majority of issues, and I am sure we will continue to do so. Substantive policy disagreements are a positive aspect of the political discourse, but in the fight for liberty, I am proud to stand with Rand."


Filed under: Rand Paul • Ted Cruz
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    “He can say what he wants to about me, and he can say anything he wants to, I think, about Mitt [Romney], Mitt’s capable of taking it. But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on that hilltop in Italy when he was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country?” – Sen. McCain

    Ted Cruz is a blathering idiot who has no foreign policy bonafides. How dare he mock a veteran who served in battle for this country? Despicable!

    March 10, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. freedom

    Healthy debate. That's what's lacking in the Obama administration – it's all cover-ups and lies. Talk about our differences instead of demonizing your opponent. We're sick and tired of it. I welcome intelligent adults expressing their views in the open in a civil manner.

    March 10, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Warren

    "Everybody has their own style," Paul said when asked about Cruz's comments, but he added, "I don't spend a lot of time trying to drag people down."

    except for the, President of The United States....

    March 10, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Enough is Enough

    And Dutch – the fact that he's a conservative Republican was all that you needed to hate him...at least be honest.....

    March 10, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    in today's purity party, St Ronnie would be declared a RINO and therefore anathema to the priveledge of belonging to the fanatical regime

    March 10, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    freedom

    Healthy debate. That's what's lacking in the Obama administration – it's all cover-ups and lies. Talk about our differences instead of demonizing your opponent. We're sick and tired of it. I welcome intelligent adults expressing their views in the open in a civil manner.
    *********************
    Yes, and when the GOP demonstrates that behavior, we will more than happy to do so. Civil debate begins with respect, and the GOP has shown none over the last 5 years. Model the behavior like an intelligent, mature adult, instead of the screaming mob that demands to be heard, and you might get somewhere.

    March 10, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "Yet, some politicians have used this time to beat their chest. What we don't need right now is politicians who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers," Paul wrote.
    ------------------------–
    Wow. Rand Paul has been sounding like the adult in the room lately. But, let's not forget where he really stands on domestic issues. Let's not forget that he would dismantle half of the federal government, including Education, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development. Try a web search for Rand Paul's five year budget plan. His position and remarks on the Civil Rights Act are well known, which alone would disqualify him as a credible candidate for POTUS.

    March 10, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Warren

    Now there is a ticket to beat.. Paul/Cruz or Cruz/Paul. LMAO..

    March 10, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    But Paul seems to think Cruz is taking the wrong approach by criticizing his fellow Republicans. Since he was elected in 2012, Cruz has repeatedly stood up to the GOP's Old Guard in the Senate and some still blame him for igniting the fiasco that ultimately led to last year's government shutdown.
    ---------------------------
    No, say it ain't so. Cruz is the one most responsible for last year's government shutdown. Who knew? Those of us who have been paying attention and noticed the fact that Cruz took credit and modestly celebrated for the first couple of days of the shutdown. ... ... then the polls came out showing that most Americans didn't like the shutdown.

    March 10, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    In what capacity these idiots talk of foreign policy? Do these idiots know foreign policy? Ted Cruz has zero knowledge of any thing, his brain consists of Colorado river clay. These idiots are so pathetic. GOP is dead.

    March 10, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Duke

    Cruz or Paul with Palin for the Republican dream ticket of 2016!!!

    Tell me your dreams/nightmares don't look like that..........

    March 10, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. ChrisM

    TPers, including Rand Paul and Rafeal Cruz, have become the extremist of the republicans and have destroyed the republican party from the inside out.

    March 10, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Aloysious Farquart

    ["Those words changed the course of history," Cruz added.]

    Because you can propose correlation = causation in the US, to college graduates, with literal impunity. I like pretending I'm in a coma and this is all a bad dream.

    March 10, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Push come to shove, I seriously doubt Ted Cruz gives a rat's behind what Rand Paul thinks, including the demand that Republicans get behind Rand Paul which is all this talk is about to begin with: self serving Rand Paul.

    March 10, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Rand Paul CSI Kentucky ?

    Look at these two goofs , they want so badly to be in an air guitar band.

    Aqua Buddha Boy's

    March 10, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. 2L

    Conservatives talk about freedom, then ban gay groups from attending CPAC – now I'm confused: are you for freedom to include or exclude?

    March 10, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Nodack

    All politics is shark infested waters. It's 100% BS. Everybody hates everybody. Every action is called genius by one group and insanity by another. Our military barracks were bombed and Reagan pulled everybody out? If Obama did that every single Republican would have chastised him and called him weak. Republicans bashing Obama and calling him weak for not doing enough for the Ukraine, but even Cruz and Rand are saying they wouldn't do anything.

    So sick of politics. It's just a war to see who can trash each other the most and divide America the most in order to get elected.

    March 10, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. deee510

    Cruz is an impulsive jerk with no common sense.and Paul hates the government but wants a promotion to be the president of they USA they're both idiots

    March 10, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    -2L

    Conservatives talk about freedom, then ban gay groups from attending CPAC – now I'm confused: are you for freedom to include or exclude?
    ******************
    Freedom has nothing to do with tolerance

    March 10, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Anonymous

    Push come to shove, I seriously doubt Ted Cruz gives a rat's behind what Rand Paul thinks,
    -------------------------------------------------
    You got that right.
    Turd Cruz doesn't give a rat's patootie what ANY Republican thinks. He reports to and is only concerned with what his puppet masters think and want him to do.

    March 10, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. sonny chapman

    I've got an idea ! Why don't both of these Commander -In – Chief "Wanna Be's" get fitted for a Grunt Uniform. Given rifles, Go To Afghanistan for 6 months. Then come back & tell us what we ought to do re: Ukraine or Syria, that Obama ain't doing. PS- If they do this, they'll will have more Military Experience than Dick Cheney who was on Fox News Sunday crying about a lack of "Muscular" Power. They'll also have more Combat Experience than George W., who sat out Vietnam in the TX Air National Guard.

    March 10, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. jefflz

    GW Bush, Ronald Reagan – just when you think it can't get any worse the GOP comes up with Rand Paul and Ted Cruz- Dumb and Dumber... a contest that would be hilarious if it weren't so frightening to realize that right wing extremists have captured half of the two-party system.

    March 10, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Tampa Tim

    Tea baggers never knew there was a payroll taxbreak for workers under the stimulus, and thanks to GOP efforts, that has expired. All the repubs have left to run on is : no immigration reform, no ACA, no social security, no Medicare, no veteran's benefits, no food stamps, no reproductive rights for women, no jobs bills, no infrastructure updates, no waiting to work with the world to deal with Ukraine,no cuts in military even though we spend more than the next 13 counties combined. With the GOP, all we can count on is more saber rattling, more shut downs, more credit rating lowerings, more obstruction and more dysfunction.

    March 10, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. 2L

    The Real Tom Paine

    -2L

    Conservatives talk about freedom, then ban gay groups from attending CPAC – now I'm confused: are you for freedom to include or exclude?
    ******************
    Freedom has nothing to do with tolerance
    ******************
    So I noticed

    March 10, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    -The Real Tom Paine

    -2L

    Conservatives talk about freedom, then ban gay groups from attending CPAC – now I'm confused: are you for freedom to include or exclude?
    ******************
    Freedom has nothing to do with tolerance, especially in rightieworld. Its does have a lot to do with responsibility, which the Right has failed at miserably for over a decade. They have refused to admit the social and monetary cost of their tax policies, which were based upon a false premise to begin with, and keep deluding themselves with the idea that starving the government of funds to pay off the debt they rang up with will somehow put society to rights. They have no notion of responsibility, yet they will insist that they, and only they, have the real truth with how to make a society free: do everything you can tho help the rich stay rich, and to hell with everyone else. Throw in a few references to the Second Amendment, and you have the perfect recipe for the near anarchy they want us to live in. But don't worry: you can thank them for making you free, free to work like a dog so we can return a new generations of charlatans and fools from the Right in tot he offices they claim they hate.

    March 10, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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