28 Days to Iowa: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio Duke It Out on Foreign Policy

Cruz and Rubio Reuters
Washington, DC

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), 2016 GOP presidential rivals, are duking it out on foreign policy heading into the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

In a foreign policy speech, without naming Cruz, Donald Trump, or Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rubio slammed all three of them in New Hampshire on Monday as “isolationists…more passionate about weakening our military and intelligence capabilities than about destroying our enemies.”

“Words and political stunts cannot ensure our security. ISIS cannot be filibustered,” Rubio said in the address from Hooksett, New Hamsphire, according to NBC News.

NBC’s report noted that Rubio “peppered the speech with veiled references to his GOP primary opponents, knocking Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Rand Paul’s stances on various issues.”

“If ISIS had lobbyists in Washington, they would have spent millions to support the anti-Intelligence law that was just passed with the help of some Republicans now running for president,” Rubio said, in a reference to the USA Freedom Ac, which reined in the mass-surveillance program from the National Security Agency (NSA) earlier this year.

In response, Cruz’s new national spokesperson Alice Stewart—who just joined the Cruz campaign from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s team—slammed Rubio.

“So Rubio’s foreign policy and national security strategy is to invade Middle Eastern countries, create power vacuums for terrorist organizations, allow their people to come to America unvetted, give them legal status and citizenship, then impose a massive surveillance state to monitor the problem. I’m trying to figure out if it is more incoherent than dangerous or vice versa,” Stewart said in an email to Breitbart News.

Responding to that, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant attacked Cruz again in an email to Breitbart News.

“No amount of false rhetoric will cover up the fact that Cruz voted for Rand Paul’s isolationist budget to slash military spending and gut US intelligence programs,” Conant said. “Cruz might talk tough, but he would endanger America by partnering with rulers like Assad and Putin. Marco has consistently fought to strengthen America’s military, intelligence programs and border security, and as president his top priority will be to keep Americans safe.”

However, in a recent interview with Breitbart News in Greenville, South Carolina, Cruz compared Rubio’s foreign policy to Democratic frontrunner former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. Cruz told Breitbart News:

On foreign policy, Sen. Rubio’s foreign policy judgments have been consistently wrong. When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made the decision to intervene in Libya, to topple Qaddafi, Sen. Rubio chose once again to stand with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Now, Qaddafi was a bad man. He had a terrible human rights record, and he himself had sponsored terrorism for many, many years. But in response to U.S. strength, Qaddafi had changed course. He voluntarily handed over his nuclear program and shut it down. And he was actively cooperating with the U.S. government in the fight against radical Islamic terrorists. He was capturing radical Islamic terrorists and handing them over to America. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio led the NATO coalition in toppling Qaddafi. And the result of that was that Libya was handed over to radical Islamic terrorists and is now a chaotic war zone of battling Islamists. And that is much, much worse for U.S. national security. The tragedy at Benghazi, four Americans murdered including the first American ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since the 1970s under Jimmy Carter, the tragedy of Benghazi was the direct result of the failed foreign policy in Libya that was championed by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and supported by Marco Rubio.

With 28 days to go until Iowa’s caucuses—and New Hampshire’s primary is just eight days after that—Cruz is on the ground in Iowa right now while Rubio’s in New Hampshire. Cruz is strongly favored to win Iowa and has had an enormous surge there in recent weeks, jumping ahead of national GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in in-state polling in the Hawkeye State.

New Hampshire, meanwhile, is considered must-win for Rubio—who’s been struggling to gain traction in recent weeks.

The New York Times’ Frank Bruni over the weekend scorched the Rubio campaign by writing a scathing piece questioning whether Rubio even has a pathway to victory—not to mention whether he’d be able to succeed in making it onto such a pathway if one existed.

“MATH was never my strongest subject, so maybe I’m just not crunching the numbers right,” Bruni wrote. “But the more I stare at them, the less sense Marco Rubio makes. Rubio as the front-runner, I mean. As the probable Republican nominee. According to odds makers and prediction markets, he’s the best bet. According to many commentators, too. But Iowa’s less than a month away, and in two recent polls of Republican voters there, he’s a distant third, far behind Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. So he’s killing it in New Hampshire, right? Wrong.”

Rubio, who’s competing in the establishment non-conservative lane for the GOP nomination while Cruz and Trump battle it out for the conservative crown, is facing newly emboldened competition from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and even some fight left in former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush, Rubio’s mentor, refuses to hand the reins over to him.

Because of the widespread establishment infighting between Rubio, Christie, Bush, and even the lingering Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Cruz and Trump have been able to break away from the rest of the pack—Trump much more so than Cruz on a national level—and they’ve left the GOP establishment hanging out to dry.