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Rand Paul, Ted Cruz Differ on Gay Marriage and Military

By    |   Thursday, 09 October 2014 12:08 PM

Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas share a desire to run for president in 2016, but this week the Republicans differed on an issue of importance to the conservative base — gay marriage.

During a recent visit to South Carolina's College of Charleston, Paul told CNN that "people change their minds all the time" on the issue of gay marriage.

"The bottom line is, I’m old fashioned and I’m a traditionalist. I believe in old-fashioned traditional marriage. But I don’t really think the government needs to be too involved with this, and I think that the Republican Party can have people on both sides of the issue," he said.

Paul's comments were in stark contrast to those made by Cruz following the Supreme Court's decision not to address gay marriage during the high court's new term.

"The Supreme Court’s decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible," said Cruz in a statement. "By refusing to rule if the states can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution."

But it is on foreign policy that the different approaches of the presidential aspirants is most stark, as was clear in September when both addressed the Family Research Council's Values Voters conference.

Paul told the largely Christian conservative audience that he is not "a pacifist," but is "dismissive of those who champion war as sport and show no reluctance to engage in war. Any leader who shows glee or eagerness for war should not be leading any nation."

He continued: "I could commit a nation to war, but only reluctantly and constitutionally and after great deliberation."

Reacting to Paul's speech during a Sept. 7 appearance on ABC News' "This Week," Cruz acknowledged the difference between the senators' approaches to foreign policy.

Qualifying his comments by noting that they were friends, Cruz stated flatly, "I don't agree with him on foreign policy."

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Cruz said he agrees that the nation should be "very reluctant to deploy military force abroad," but he contended "there is a vital role [for the U.S. to play], just as Ronald Reagan did."

"I like Cruz, but he can be a bit of a firebrand, and he is a little more of an opportunist. I think that at the Unity Breakfast up here, Rand came off as a unifier rather than a firebrand and opportunist," former New Hampshire state Sen. Jim Luther told The Washington Times. "Rand was a bit more thoughtful and more composed, I thought."

The firebrand style clearly appealed to the crowd at the Values Voters conference, as Cruz won the event's presidential straw poll for the second consecutive year.

Cruz won with 25 percent of the vote, while Paul trailed behind in sixth place with 7 percent of the votes cast, reports The Washington Post.

In 2013, Cruz won with 42 percent.

While neither Republican has declared his intention about a 2016 presidential run, both came to the September conference with potential campaigns on their minds.

"For a Cruz campaign, Christian conservative support will have to be core pillar of support. For Paul, the focus in on assuaging Christian conservative doubts as he focuses on building out new parts of the electorate from more libertarian-leaning Americans," wrote Time magazine's Michael Scherer.

As Cruz builds support among the party's base, Paul is attempting to reach younger voters and to widen the party's base. Paul has publicly championed causes such as prison and sentencing reform, and has taken that message to African-American audiences.

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Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas share a desire to run for president in 2016, but this week the Republicans differed on an issue of importance to the conservative base — gay marriage.
Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, gay marriage, presidential race, military
Thursday, 09 October 2014 12:08 PM
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