Cruz, Paul perform as well.12:12 PM, Jan 26, 2015 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Rancho Mirage, California
Three top Republican senators joined top center-right donors Sunday evening for a lively, informal discussion on politics and policy to cap off a weekend that effectively marks the kickoff of the 2016 presidential primary. In oversized white chairs on stage at the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio fielded questions for nearly 90 minutes from Jonathan Karl of ABC News, who capably pushed the potential candidates for responses on a wide range of issues.
The discussion came as part of a weekend seminar for wealthy conservatives and libertarians sponsored by Charles and David Koch and was livestreamed by ABC News.
There were few differences between the three senators over the first half of the discussion, which focused largely on domestic policy. On tax policy, none of the three said they would take the deal offered to GOP primary candidates in 2012 – $10 in spending cuts for every $1 of tax hikes. Cruz mocked the premise and suggested that it’s a question that only the media love. Rubio argued that even with the kind of cuts and tax hikes the question assumes, the U.S. government couldn’t “set aside” the looming entitlement crisis. Paul used the session to urge Republicans in Washington to take a bolder approach to tax reform, saying that if the GOP spends its time just fighting for “revenue neutral tax reform” he might as well return to his medical practice in Kentucky.
If the forum was characterized by agreement on domestic policy issues, the stark differences between Paul and Rubio on foreign policy were obvious. Karl asked specifically about Cuba policy and noted that Paul has voiced support for the Obama administration’s new approach. In an argument that echoes Obama’s, Paul argued that it’s time for a change after fifty years of a failed Cuba embargo. As he has before, Paul once again suggested that those who disagree with him are driven primarily by “emotion.” Rubio countered by accusing Paul – and Obama – of misunderstanding the purpose of the embargo, noting that the Castro regime confiscated property of many Americans during the revolution. Cruz, for his part, reinforced Rubio’s arguments and cited his family’s ties to Cuba.
The sharpest differences came during the discussion of Iran. Paul again supported the Obama administration’s case that even talking about additional sanctions could threaten the delicate talks. Invoking Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union, Paul touted the benefits of talking to your enemies and suggested that Cruz and Rubio were out of step with the Republican icon. Rubio scoffed at the suggestion that triggered sanctions are too tough. The Obama administration, he argued, is too solicitous of the Iranian regime. It’s hard to have serious negotiations with the mullahs, Rubio added, in part because of their apocalyptic views of a world that fails to embrace Islam.
If the first half of the discussion was a draw, Rubio stood out in the discussion of foreign policy and national security. It was clear that he has a command of the issues that far surpasses both Paul and Cruz – a fact that’s perhaps not surprising given Rubio’s service on both the Senate Foreign Relations committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Rubio demonstrated a fluency on matters of national security that one might expect from a senator who has been in Washington much longer than four years.
Cruz hasn’t focused on national security issues the way Rubio has, but articulated positions that put him squarely in the mainstream of Republican thinking on those issues, and did so in a way that distinguished him from the views of his friend and frequent ally, Paul.
Paul showed no reluctance embracing the positions of the Obama administration, even before an audience that was very skeptical of the case he made. Both at the forum here and more generally, Paul is offering a less-crazy and more politically saleable version of the non-interventionism championed by his father. While the media have long predicted an emerging non-interventionist wing of the GOP, there did not appear to be many sympathetic to Paul’s case, with audible opposition to his arguments on Cuba and, in particular, on Iran.
9:38 PM, Jan 14, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
An institute named for the father of possible presidential candidate Rand Paul has published a piece saying the Charlie Hebdo massacre, like 9/11, was a false flag operation. The claim comes in piece titled, "Charlie Hebdo Shootings: False Flag?," put online today at the Ron Paul Institute.
In a recent op-ed, Rand Paul argues for President Obama's foreign policy.12:50 PM, Dec 20, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Senator Rand Paul has an op-ed in Time magazine making the case for normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba as Barack Obama has proposed. It’s a reasonable objective for U.S.
3:48 PM, Nov 30, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Bill Kristol, with Cokie Roberts, Donna Brazile, and Jelani Cobb, this morning on ABC's This Week:
2:11 PM, Oct 28, 2014 • By DAVID ADESNIK
Did Rand Paul just become a supporter of George W. Bush’s freedom agenda? “The world does not have an Islam problem,” Paul explained a few days ago. “The world has a dignity problem, with millions of men and women across the Middle East being treated as chattel by their own governments.” Such words clearly echo President Bush’s declaration that, “Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe – because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.” Few statements have provoked more ire from committed realists, which is what Rand Paul says he is.
He’s playing the game.Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
On the evening of September 11, Rand Paul sipped red wine out of a clear plastic cup as he wended his way through a bar full of 200 or so millennials. After snapping photos with admirers who had gathered to hear Paul speak and partake of free food and drink provided by Generation Opportunity, a libertarian-leaning nonprofit, the Kentucky senator took the stage.
3:45 PM, Sep 5, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
“They should know we will follow them to the gates of hell.”
“The long-term challenge is debilitating and ultimately eradicating a strong and growing ISIS.”
“The president should have weaponized the moderate Syrian rebels earlier.”
11:25 AM, Sep 2, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Just before the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend, the reelection campaign for Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced its campaign manager, Jesse Benton, was resigning. Benton was leaving the campaign, Politico reports, "citing potential distractions over renewed attention to a scandal from the Iowa 2012 caucuses."
4:28 PM, Jul 18, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
It's still a year and a half before the first presidential primaries of 2016, but Gallup has a new survey out asking Republicans and Democrats about the potential GOP candidates. Analyzing those candidates' familiarity and favorability among Republicans, Gallup has discovered the best known and best liked are former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, Wisconsin congressman and 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, and Texas governor Rick Perry.
Rand Paul’s book recommendations.Jul 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 42 • By DAVID ADESNIK
Rand Paul is a man of conviction. His reputation for acting on principle is the foundation on which he has begun to build the infrastructure of a presidential campaign. It is very difficult, however, for a man of conviction to adjust his image without compromising his reputation for integrity.
The Ted Cruz-Rand Paul foreign policy split. Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Ted Cruz is not in a fighting mood. The Texas senator is sitting in a booth at the Capital Grille, an upscale restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue, about halfway between the Capitol, where Cruz works, and the White House, where many suspect he’d like to end up. His jacket is off, his light blue tie is tucked behind his crisp white dress shirt as he casually picks at the salmon filet on the dinner plate in front of him and sips a glass of Pinot Noir.
1:59 PM, Nov 21, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
UPDATE: Coburn's spokesman called to say that his boss was joking. Says the spokesman, “Dr. Coburn was poking fun at himself and the focus on presidential politics and rivalries three years ahead of the next election. The exchange characterized below was a joke – it didn’t happen in real life …” The full text of the speech is bellow. The post is updated to reflect this fact.
2:52 PM, Sep 13, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In an interview with Buzzfeed's McKay Coppins, Kentucky senator Rand Paul criticized "some" Christians who support Israel and the Jews and those Christians' "overeagerness" to go to war. Adding to sentiments he expressed in a speech earlier this year, Paul told Buzzfeed: