Sen. Ted Cruz did some fence-mending Monday, dismissing "divisions" with tea party-approved colleague — and possible 2016 GOP presidential rival — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, declaring he'd proudly "stand with Rand."
"Although some would like to play up divisions among Republicans, I have no desire to play their game," the Texas Republican said in a statement, the Washington Post
"Rand Paul is a courageous voice for liberty, and I’m honored to call him my friend," Cruz said, adding: "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."
It was the foreign policy issue that initially opened the rift between the pair Sunday,
when Cruz told ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulous," that "I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world, and I agree with [Paul] that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad, but I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did."
On Fox News Sunday, Paul swiped back.
"I think those who would try to argue that somehow I'm different than the mainstream Republican opinion are people who want to take advantage for their own personal political gain," he said. "I'm a great believer in Ronald Reagan. I'm a great believer in a strong national defense."
On Monday, Paul expanded on his criticism, writing for Bretibart News
that Reagan's legacy was being mangled.
"I don’t claim to be the next Ronald Reagan nor do I attempt to disparage fellow Republicans as not being sufficiently Reaganesque," Paul wrote. "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 praised Reagan as "a great leader and President," but wrote "too often people make him into something he wasn’t in order to serve their own political purposes."
He never named Cruz.
"Today, we forget that some of the Republican hawks of his time criticized Reagan harshly for this too, again, calling him an appeaser," Paul writes. "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."
After initially declining comment, Cruz's office offered a statement Monday night, The Post reported.
"Substantive policy disagreements are a positive aspect of the political discourse, but in the fight for liberty, I am proud to stand with Rand," Cruz said.
Both finished first and second
at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll Saturday.
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