How the Paul-Cruz competition can reshape the GOP
The most attention-grabbing conservatives in the emerging 2016 Republican presidential nomination race are two freshmen U.S. senators who had never held elective office before. Though nearly equal in their fanfare, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas are romancing Republican and independent voters in radically different ways.
The outcome of their fierce competition could influence the direction of their party.
Win or lose, both men have an opportunity to influence a new generation of conservatives in tactics, policy and coalition-building while readjusting the movement’s planks of fiscal restraint, free markets, strong security and social values.
Fashioning himself as an uncompromising truth-teller, Mr. Cruz wants a strict adherence to the federal spending restraints promised, but not practiced, by Republicans over most of the past 25 years. His admirers say they would trust him to advance the Bible as the one true word, the foundation of American politics and policy at home and abroad.
Mr. Paul advocates a more inclusive approach. He appeals to voters regardless of religion, political inclination or lifestyle and substantively pushes a foreign policy tipped away from unending intervention. He has positioned himself as a uniter capable of expanding the Republican Party beyond its core.
“We’re an increasingly diverse nation, and I think we do need to reach out to other people that don’t look like us, don’t wear the same clothes, that aren’t exactly who we are,” he told Iowa Republicans.
In a Senate floor speech last month, Mr. Paul once again laid out his principles for foreign policy, using the Islamic State crisis in the Middle East as a case study.
“Intervention created this chaos,” he said. “To those who wish unlimited intervention and boots on the ground everywhere, remember the smiling poses of politicians pontificating about so-called freedom fighters and heroes in Libya, in Syria and in Iraq — unaware that the so-called freedom fighters may well have been allied with kidnappers and are killers and jihadists.”
The Middle East and America’s long alliance with Israel creates another possible separation point between these men of ambition.
Mr. Paul has visited Israel in the company of American rabbis, evangelical ministers and Catholic priests and has embraced the Jewish state as a friend and ally.
Some evangelicals, however, say Mr. Cruz has gone well beyond Mr. Paul’s statements and see him as a fellow “dispensationalist,” even though Mr. Cruz has not publicly identified himself