Just as their first significant public conflict as 2016 frontrunners was starting to heat up, Ted Cruz has some nice things to say about his colleague Rand Paul.
“Rand Paul is a courageous voice for liberty, and I’m honored to call him my friend,” Cruz said in a written statement, adding that the two have agreed on the “vast majority of issues.”
Cruz was responding to Paul op-ed published at Breitbart that ripped Republicans for falsely claiming the mantle of Ronald Reagan to push their own bellicose foreign policy views.
The op-ed didn’t mention Cruz by name, but came days after Cruz positioned himself between as the Reagan choice on foreign policy while calling out Paul as the dovish left flank of the GOP.
Thursday, in a speech at the “Uninvited II” national security summit, Cruz said that while Sen. John McCain is on the hawkish right flank of the party on foreign policy, and Rand Paul is at the other, left flank of the party, he’s in the middle, championing a Reaganesque policy.
Cruz had made similar remarks before, but their appearance in what was potentially Cruz’s most significant foreign policy speech apparently did not sit well with Paul.
“Every Republican likes to think he or she is the next Ronald Reagan. Some who say this do so for lack of their own ideas and agenda. Reagan was a great leader and President. But too often people make him into something he wasn’t in order to serve their own political purposes,” Paul wrote.
Cruz, in responding to the op-ed, is taking down the burgeoning conflict a notch with his kind words for the junior Kentucky senator. But his quote also included a firm indication that foreign policy debate between the two isn’t going to fade anytime soon.
“We do not agree on everything, especially regarding foreign policy, 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,” Cruz said.
Paul is set to appear on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show at 10:00pm where he will address the matter further.
The spat is the first time the two senators have had a significant public conflict since they have both emerged as major 2016 contenders.
Paul and Cruz have both worked closely on big fights in the Senate including the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill and the push to defund Obamacare that ended with a 16-day government shutdown.