Is Rand Paul a Better Candidate for President Than Ted Cruz?

Rand Paul, Source:  Mark Wilson/Getty News Images

Mark Wilson/Getty News Images

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) may have been the first to announce his candidacy for president, but he isn’t the only player on the field, even if he’s the only official contender at the moment. Perhaps one of his biggest concerns should be Sen. Rand Paul — that is, of course, assuming Paul runs.

At this point it is a fairly safe bet that Paul will be taking a shot at the presidency considering his upcoming April announcement, to be followed by a tour through five important election states. At Cruz’s announcement speech, it was clear just how much he’d have to contend with his fellow Tea Party member (if he is indeed accurately placed in that category), as a small crowd of red-t-shirt wearing “Rand” supporters photo-bombed Cruz’s crowd on Monday.

Rand’s take on Cruz’s run

Rand is frank about how he and Cruz differ — or, at least, frank in stating that he considers their views on various topics to be relatively relatable.

The interesting thing is, I didn’t find much I disagreed with,” said Paul in an interview with Fox News. “The thing is, we kind of come from the same wing of the party, and if you look at our voting records you’ll find that we’re very very similar.” As strategy goes, this is not a surprising one coming from Paul. Arguably what he’s doing is using Cruz’s stolidly red reputation to bolster his own Tea Party reputation — which has been flagging — by comparing their policy preferences so closely.

At the same time, he is justifying those actions that some have critiqued as inconsistent with his Republican rhetoric. “I guess what makes us different is probably our approach as to how we would make the party bigger. I’m a big believer that you should stand on principles and be true to your principles,” said Paul, “but I also think that we should take those principles and try to bring in new people.” Here he is referring to his efforts in Silicon Valley, in the heart of liberal California, where he’s setting up an office in the Bay Area with hopes of drawing in millennials and independents.

Poll comparison

While Cruz has a great deal of appeal to far right conservatives, Paul has done better thus-far in the polls compared to a number of other Republican contenders, including Cruz. However, he’s not leading the crowd yet, despite what he may argue. He claimed in a Fox interview that “nobody is doing better against Hillary Clinton than myself because we’re already picking up 3-5 percent or more of the independent vote.” When asked about a polling average, his response was a little lackluster though, saying, “It sort of depends which poll you look at, your rival station had a poll yesterday that had me tied for the lead with Walker and Bush.”

This is an accurate point to make in part, but it also unpacks a whole box of polling problems. Realistically, you can find a poll that says just about anything, depending on who conducts the poll, what the margin of error is, what population it targets, and how the questions are phrased. When one looks at RealClearPolitics, which averages polls including CNN/ORC, McClatchy/Marist, Quinnipiac, PPP, and Fox News, then compares those results between candidates, Paul falls in fifth place, after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.), Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee. The point is that, as an average, it’s slightly more trustworthy than taking single polls at face value; though he has a point that there are other important measuring factors. For examples, his third consecutive CPAC victory.

Attacks on Clinton

Another hint that Paul is planning on taking a running leap at 2016 — though realistically, further evidence isn’t needed — is his harsh critique of Clinton recently. On top of media attention to her use of a personal email during her time as Secretary of State, Clinton has been dealing with criticism for accepting donations to her Clinton Foundation for women’s rights from nations with a poor track record on the treatment of women both socially and legally.

Clinton defends the acceptance by arguing that her Foundation is very clear in how it uses the money, regardless of where donations come from and who chooses to put money forward, and that purpose is to help and empower women. Still, Paul has demanded something that is clearly not going to take place — that she make a very delayed return of the funds — before launching into his disgust at her acceptance of funds from countries that “appear to have a war on women,” calling it “unconscionable,” according to the Washington Times.

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