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Tags: gop | 2016 | presidency | cuba | normalization

2016 Twist: Rand Paul's Embrace of Obama's Cuba Policy

By    |   Tuesday, 23 December 2014 11:09 AM EST

The emergence of Washington's newest "odd couple" has intriguing implications for the upcoming battle over the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Libertarian, tea party supporter and presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has drawn close — uncomfortably close, according to some Republicans — to President Barack Obama over Obama's decision to open diplomatic ties and end the 50-year-old embargo of Cuba, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In an article titled "The Oddest Bedfellows? Try Obama and Rand Paul," the Journal noted that Paul's support for Obama on opening up to Cuba and other issues "indicates Republicans are in for a serious ideological debate and a genuine challenge to some tenets of party orthodoxy in the next presidential campaign."

Paul's agreement with Obama immediately ignited a war of words between him and other GOP presidential contenders, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who called Obama's Cuban stance a "tragic mistake," and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said that instead of lifting the embargo, "We should consider strengthening it," the Daily Beast reports.

The fiercest ideological disagreement has erupted between Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Paul, with Rubio happy to tie Paul to Obama, referring to the "Obama-Paul foreign policy" on ABC's "This Week."

Story continues below video.

Rubio added, "Rand, if he wants to become the chief cheerleader of Obama’s foreign policy, he certainly has a right to do that.

"I’m going to continue to oppose the Obama-Paul foreign policy on Cuba because I know it won’t lead to freedom and liberty for the Cuban people, which is my sole interest here."

Paul struck back on Twitter, writing, "Senator Marco Rubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism.

"This seems to be a preview of the debate of 2016."

Real Clear Politics' roundup of polls indicates that Bush is well in the lead for the GOP nomination, at 15.2 percent, while Paul is in fourth place with 9 percent, Cruz is eighth with 6.3 percent, and Rubio struggles in 10th place with just 4 percent.

The Journal notes that Paul and Obama share other areas of agreement, such as negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program, changing sentencing guidelines to deal with racial and class disparity, expressing concern over recent police shootings of black criminals and restoring voting rights to released prisoners.

However, Paul, the Journal notes, still wants to repeal Obamacare, opposes Obama on raising the minimum wage, the use of drones against Islamic militants, and failing to strenuously pursue free trade agreements. He also has blasted the Obama administration's record on foreign policy.

Still, the Journal notes, the growing similarity between Paul and Obama "riles up many in the party’s establishment — which seems to bother Mr. Paul not at all."

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The emergence of Washington's newest "odd couple" — Sen. Rand Paul and President Obama — has intriguing implications for the upcoming battle over the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
gop, 2016, presidency, cuba, normalization
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 11:09 AM
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