As soon as Ted Cruz announced his 2016 presidential campaign, the pundits began reacting, as did some of the other Republican contenders. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul share many of the same views and much of the same backing among conservatives, however, Paul argues that he is the more electable candidate in the long run.
Report from the Washington Post:
“I didn’t find much I disagreed with,” Paul said of Cruz’s speech. “If you look at our voting records, you’ll find that we’re very, very similar. I guess what makes us different is probably our approach as to how we would make the party bigger.”
Paul said he and Cruz came “from the same wing of the party,” but that polling showed him doing better against Hillary Clinton.
According to a Real Clear Politics average, Clinton beats Paul 50-41, a closer margin than any potential Republican 2016 candidate but Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who would lose to Clinton 49-41. Cruz would lose to Clinton by 50-39, Real Clear Politics found.
Paul said a potential winner couldn’t win an election by just “throwing out red meat” and said he would be able to both excite the base and expand the party, “taking those principals of liberty” and a “unique brand of conservatism” and bringing them to a new audience.
When compared against Cruz, Paul has a higher percentage of Republican primary voters who say they could see themselves supporting him — 49 percent to 40 percent — and his libertarian leanings are more appealing to many young voters than Cruz’s stance on social issues.
This dynamic will be the thrust of the debate heading into the primaries. With several candidates who share similar views, how do they differentiate themselves? Cruz is coming out unabashedly strong on a host of conservative issues. Paul will have to contend with how he can square some his libertarian views to appeal to some of the same voters. In the end, the “electability” argument carries a lot of weight, just look at the GOP nominee in 2008 and 2012 if you have any doubt. Of course, neither of those so-called “electable” candidates won, but it did sway a lot of support in their direction.
Finally, things are getting interesting as the candidates are brought into the ring against each other. It has been noted that Cruz and Paul were strong allies in the Senate. However, the presidential campaign will force them to begin drawing distinctions and chart separate courses in a quest for the Republican nomination.