It all started with this Rubio attack ad against Cruz:
Okay, actually, it started with the Schumer-Rubio "comprehensive immigration reform" bill almost three years ago that Rubes will never live down and from which he wanted to turn the page after his attempt to point out - accurately - that Cruz is at least an immigration squish, if not a full-frontal amnesty-ist, didn't get anywhere. So he pivoted to one of his strongest issues, foreign policy and national security, which also happens to not be one of Cruz's strongest areas.
But did he oversell in this ad? Well, it's not wrong on the actual substance; Cruz did vote for the "USA Freedom" Act and that bill did weaken our intelligence and internal security capabilities, making it more likely that jihadists can pull off major attacks here at home. It's also true that Cruz didn't have any leadership role in that bill or on that issue, and that the bill was a compromise between Patriot Act renewal and what Rand Paul was seeking. Given that there were not the votes for the former, it can just as easily be argued that Senator Cruz voted realistically for the best bill that natsec hawks were going to get. And saying that "Cruz joined Obama" is just silly.
But the ad does undercut Cruz's Tea Party "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!" image, which is the only thing I can fathom that Rubio was trying to get out of it.
It also, though, stimulated that instinct, and Rubio is not without natsec vulnerabilities of his own, on which Cruz landed with both feet and both fists:
“Senator Rubio emphatically supported Hillary Clinton in toppling [Muammar] Qaddafi in Libya. I think that made no sense,” Cruz told Bloomberg Politics in a wide-ranging and exclusive interview during a campaign swing through Iowa. He argued that the 2011 bombings that toppled the Libyan leader didn’t help the fight against terrorists. “Qaddafi was a bad man, he had a horrible human rights record. And yet … he had become a significant ally in fighting radical Islamic terrorism.”
“The terrorist attack that occurred in Benghazi was a direct result of that massive foreign policy blunder,” Cruz said during a drive eastward from a town-hall event near Iowa City to another in the town of Clinton…
“If you look at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and for that matter some of the more aggressive Washington neo-cons, they have consistently mis-perceived the threat of Islamic terrorism and have advocated military adventurism that has had the effect of benefiting Islamic terrorists,” he said…
On Syria, Cruz inveighed against Rubio and [Mrs.] Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of state, for supporting a no-fly zone and arming “the so-called moderate rebels.” “I think none of that makes any sense. In my view, we have no dog in the fight of the Syrian civil war,” he said, arguing that Rubio and [Mrs.] Clinton “are repeating the very same mistakes they made in Libya. They’ve demonstrated they’ve learned nothing.” [emphasis added]
Yes, that's right, ladies and gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz is echoing me from over two years ago. Assad, the Iranian mullahgarchy stooge, is our enemy, and so is ISIS. So either we launch the all-out invasion of Syria we should have over a decade ago when we had the chance, or we stay out altogether - which is problematic given the rise of ISIS that Barack Obama has birthed.
But Cruz is even more spot-on target regarding Operation "Lead From Behind" in Libya. That debacle ought to have illustrated for all time that you can't fight a one-dimensional war and expect to ever win it. Bombing Khaddafy out of power was only half of the equation; the other half had to be U.S. boots on the ground, an actual invasion, in order to take the territory that we had liberated from the colonel's control. That other half of the equation was missing, leaving a pure vacuum that al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, and then ISIS, filled. Plus, on top of that, it made the Benghazi consulate attack inevitable, and it was through that facility that the Obama Regime was clandestinely sending military aid to what eventually became....the Islamic State.
Again, either a full-scale invasion or leave Khaddafy alone. There is no middle ground, and no room for "minimalism". And Marco Rubio "full-throatedly" backed Operation "Lead From Behind".
So what has Rubes gotten out of this natsec scrum with Ted Cruz? He's made Cruz look more statesmanlike and created greater doubt about his own foreign policy judgement. Maybe he'd like to turn the page back to immigration, or sodomarriage.
You know how else we can tell that Ted Cruz got the better of that exchange? Guess who is coming to Senator Rubio's rescue:
Consider this the long-awaited opening salvo in the Trump-Cruz war. Clearly Trump considers Cruz a bigger threat to his candidacy than Rubio is, and is jumping in to head off any additional Cruz surge.by keeping his evangelical support separate from natsec hawks and "neocons".
And also, you know, to say outrageous, stupid, GOP-discrediting stuff like this:
Remember what Trump's mission is: To sabotage Republican chances from the top of the 2016 ballot to the bottom to the greatest extent possible. Ergo, it also stands to reason that he'd want to kneecap the only viable "true conservative" left in the race. Time will tell if he has succeeded in the latter.
Exit reminder from Eeyore:
Trump is running the most anti-libertarian campaign in recent Republican history. Other Republicans may not govern like libertarians but they all pay lip service to libertarian ideals: We need to shrink government, we need to get government out of the way, we need to empower individuals, and so forth. Trump doesn’t talk like that. Trump’s core argument is that the government would work fine, even great potentially, if we didn’t have imbeciles running it. He’s not opposed to statism, he’s opposed to “dumb” statism. On trade, he’s protectionist; on illegal immigration, he’s restrictionist; on entitlements, he’s opposed to cuts; on eminent domain, he’s willing to break a few eggs in the name of making an omelette.....Go figure that he’s also not a civil libertarian when it comes to the government harvesting Americans’ data.
In other words, Trump is a Jackass in Pachyderm clothing. Call him the one-man Democrat "SEAL Team Six".