Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) publicly criticized fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for his views on the future of the GOP and past Republican presidential candidates in an op-ed published Monday.
The two men, grouped as “wacko birds” by Arizona Sen. John McCain during 2013’s Conservative Political Action Conference, are taking aim at each other as the 2016 presidential election cycle churns its way to life. Paul take offense to remarks made by Cruz (R-Texas) during CPAC, and said that division will not help the party win the presidency.
“I don’t claim to be the next Ronald Reagan nor do I attempt to disparage fellow Republicans as not being sufficiently Reaganesque. 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 Reagan, that splintering the party is not the route to victory.”
Paul also called for today’s GOP members to remember Reagan’s legacy while creating their own path.
“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.”
Cruz, during remarks made at the conference last week, praised Reagan and former Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul – Rand’s father – for standing on principle, and ridiculed recent GOP presidential candidates Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney for an inadequate dose of the same.
“Now look, those are good men, they’re decent men but when you don’t stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don’t stand for principle, Democrats celebrate.”
Cruz defended his remarks Monday night, citing a friendship between him and Paul, as well as the need for lively discussion in the political arena.
“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, 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.”
Paul won the CPAC straw poll last week, garnering 31 percent of the vote. Cruz finished a distant second with 11 percent of the vote, edging out conservative neurosurgeon Ben Carson (9 percent).
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