For years, they've been the best of political buddies, backing each others' plays in the Senate, fending off attacks and generally agreeing on virtually every issue.
But the lure of the White House can break up the happiest of marriages, and Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are beginning to diverge on separate paths that threaten their previously happy partnership.
Part of the problem, The Wall Street Journal notes
, is that both of the conservatives are chasing the same brass ring — grass-roots supporters rather than big money GOP backers, who are more likely to finance tea party favorite Cruz and libertarian Paul — and there's only so much money to go around.
Paul and Cruz recently got together to co-sponsor the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, which calls for government auditing of the Federal Reserve, with Cruz commenting that "enough is enough. The Federal Reserve needs to fully open its books so Congress and the American people can see what has been going on," The New York Times reported
However, on several other issues, the differences between the two men are becoming highly apparent.
With the recent outbreak of over 100 cases of measles, Paul, an ophthalmologist who has been linked to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons that supports allowing parents to opt out of vaccinations, caused a flap when he said, "I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines," and parents "should have some input" on whether to vaccinate their children, NBC News reported
Cruz, on the other hand, told Politico
: "On the question of whether kids should be vaccinated, the answer is obvious and there's widespread agreement — of course they should."
Cruz, the Journal notes, is an unapologetic "hawk" when it comes to military intervention, whereas Paul takes a more cautious stance on U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts, leading to a split in their likely supporters.
While Joe Hannon, a New Hampshire state representative, told the Journal, "Cruz, he's too much in-your-face," Matt Krause, a Texas state representative commented, "people are looking for a fighter. He (Cruz) says what he is going to do and does it."
Cruz, the Journal notes, is much more confrontational when it comes to opposing GOP leadership than Paul, particularly in criticizing, or supporting, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Paul recently one-upped Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry when he hired Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri, known as a highly effective fundraiser, to work on Paul's campaign, the Daily Progress reported
A current Real Clear Politics roundup
shows Cruz trailing Paul in the race for the GOP nomination, 5.2 to 8.6. However, both men lag far behind front-runner and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at an average of 16.4.
While campaigning in Cruz's Texas home turf, Paul took on a conciliatory note, the Journal reports, saying, “I don't see it as a competition. We've come to Texas to show we are serious about Texas and we're serious about spreading our message nationwide, not just in a few places."
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