As the budget debate
played out in the Senate on Thursday, four potential GOP presidential candidates found themselves at odds with competing philosophies about the way the country should be run, a preview to how the 2016 campaign may play out.
According to Politico, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham backed the plan to increase tens of billions of dollars for the Pentagon budget. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul blasted the plan saying spending was not offset by other cuts.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ultimately sided with Rubio and Graham
but found himself in a dilemma between establishing his credentials as a fiscal conservative as well as a defense hawk.
But after the vote, Paul lashed out at the other potential candidates saying that they were "reckless" and "irresponsible" and lacked the "courage" to tackle the country's debt.
"I think there are a great deal of problems for people who want to argue that they are fiscal conservatives and yet would simply borrow hundreds of billions of dollars for defense," Paul told Politico. "I think it is irresponsible and dangerous to the country to borrow so much money to add into defense."
Cruz took a different line.
"I think it is critical that we allocate the resources that are necessary to provide for our national security functions," Cruz said, according to Politico.
At times, on other issues, Cruz has sided with the libertarian wing of the party, including Paul, voting to oppose the administration's drone policy and airstrikes in Syria.
Meanwhile, measures by Paul and Rubio, each taking a different approach, were both voted down. Rubio called for military spending above the $96 billion in the budget without offering spending cuts elsewhere. Paul was seeking to offset potential defense spending increases.
"The national security of our country is the predominant obligation of the federal branch of government," Rubio said on the Senate floor, according to Politico. "It is the one thing that only the federal government can do, and it is the first thing that it is tasked with doing."
In the run up to the vote, the senators were keeping their cards close to their chests about which way they would vote, realizing that the stakes for their position
could be reverberate through a campaign in 2016.
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