Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback jumped on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for including former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole on his list of bad nominees in a speech last week to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“You want to lose elections, stand for nothing,” Cruz told the CPAC crowd Thursday morning, detailing years of congressional defeats with the 2010 Tea Party rout as the exception. “…And then of course, all of us remember President Dole and President McCain and President Romney. Now look, those are good men. They’re decent men, but when you don’t stand and draw a clear distinction; when you don’t stand for principle, Democrats celebrate.”
“I don’t appreciate it,” Brownback said of Cruz’s speech on Fox. “I understand why people do that, but Bob Dole is a great American . You can disagree with him on policy, but he’s the iconic figure of the World War II generation. He’s a wonderful man. He led the Senate for a good period of time.”
When asked about the question of nominating moderates or candidates who are more staunchly conservative, the governor responded, “I think you’ve got to wait and see what the landscape actually says at that point in time.”
“But, my point is, the Reagan point is, you just don’t speak poorly of fellow Republicans. You know, and Reagan was always a very inclusive person and he had a lot of moderates in the party,” Brownback added.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) responded to Cruz’s speech by saying “my style is that I stand for things and I don’t think people question whether I stand for principle, but I don’t spend a lot of time trying to drag people down.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he told Cruz that the Dole reference was inappropriate.
On ABC Sunday, Cruz contrasted himself with Paul. “He and I are good friends. I don’t agree with him on foreign policy. I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world. And I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force aboard. But I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did.”
Paul responded by penning an op-ed in Time Monday hitting at GOPs — without mentioning Cruz’s name — who make Ronald Reagan “into something he wasn’t in order to serve their own political purposes.”
Cruz issued a statement last night noting “although some would like to play up divisions among Republicans, I have no desire to play their game.”
“Rand Paul is a courageous voice for liberty, and I’m honored to call him my friend. 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,” Cruz said. “Substantive policy disagreements are a positive aspect of the political discourse, but in the fight for liberty, I am proud to stand with Rand.”