- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have followed through on their promises to shake things up on Capitol Hill since arriving in Washington, but some political analysts say the recent intraparty warfare shows the two rivals for the Republican presidential nomination are split over the best way to give the government a face-lift.

Mr. Paul has had some success fostering rapport with his Senate colleagues. On Wednesday, he helped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentucky Republican, and a couple of his top lieutenants roll out a bill to strip federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The sense of unity at the press conference was lacking on the Senate floor late last week when Mr. Cruz called Mr. McConnell a liar and accused him of behaving like his predecessor, Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, by limiting debate and blocking amendments.

The attack sparked an intense backlash from Senate Republican leaders, reinforcing the notion that the conservative firebrand is more alienated than ever in the Senate.

“The truth if the matter is that Sen. Cruz is right almost all the time, but he is still kind of working out the difference between being right and moving the ball,” said Mike McKenna, a Republican Party strategist. “It is the difference between being a senator and being a guy who is an evangelist. Sen. Cruz is an evangelist. It is ‘take it or leave it.’

Sen. Paul is becoming a senator,” Mr. McKenna said. “He has figured out how to better leverage his popularity and his skill set.”

It remains to be seen whose approach will be most beneficial in the presidential race as Mr. Paul and Mr. Cruz remain in a statistical dead heat at about 5 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. They are hovering in the middle of the 16-candidate field.

David N. Bossie, president of Citizens United, a conservative group, said Mr. Paul was once deemed the most interesting man in politics, but is now struggling to get momentum behind his campaign and is making a political miscalculation by cozying up with establishment party leaders.

Mr. Bossie said conservatives celebrated the way Mr. Cruz slammed Mr. McConnell for employing a procedural maneuver to resurrect a vote on the Export-Import Bank while blocking amendments that called for tighter restrictions on the Iran nuclear deal pushed by the Obama administration and blocked funding for Planned Parenthood.

“They want a straight-shooter, and they want someone who will speak truth to power, and that is what Ted Cruz did with that epic speech” against Mr. McConnell, Mr. Bossie said. “It showed Ted Cruz for being a change agent, for being someone who will stand tall in the lion’s den and speak truth to power.”

Mr. Paul, like Mr. Cruz, opposed the Export-Import Bank but stayed out of the Cruz-led fight on the Senate floor.

Jim Manley, a Democratic Party strategist, said Mr. Paul’s reluctance to get involved in the fight and his work on the Planned Parenthood bill showed he could have the skills for a long career in the Senate.

“While his politics aren’t my cup of tea, I can see Sen. Paul actually trying to make a career out of the Senate,” Mr. Manley said. “I can’t imagine Sen. Cruz is going to stick around very long.

Sen. Cruz doesn’t have a relationship with members of his own caucus, while by all accounts Sen. Paul has been able to build up a good relationship with [Minority Leader Harry] Reid of all people,” he said.

Mr. Paul also has clashed with Republican leaders, leading a 10-hour attempt to filibuster the Patriot Act extension in May that pitted him against Mr. McConnell, whose re-election bid he endorsed last year.

Mr. Paul also has knocked heads with some of the Senate Republican defense hawks over military adventurism.

Mr. Cruz, meanwhile, led the effort to defund Obamacare in 2013 that led to a 16-day partial government shutdown, which Republicans said tarnished the party’s image. Mr. Cruz said the showdown energized conservatives and helped Republicans take over the Senate in the November elections.

Mr. Cruz and Mr. Paul are jockeying for similar slices of the electorate in their runs for the Republican presidential nomination, though Mr. Paul has had more of a struggle reaching out to social conservatives who play a key role in early primary states.

As a result, his campaign and its allies are touting the role he played in offering the bill to stop taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.

“Standing on a hill yelling ‘Smash the state’ may be a good way to get attention and maybe score some cheap points on the Internet, but it’s not leadership,” Jesse Benton, of the pro-Paul America’s Liberty PAC, said about Mr. Cruz.

Rand has a great vision for the future and wants to get things done,” said Mr. Benton, who worked on Mr. McConnell’s re-election campaign. “Sometimes, as with his major filibusters, it means standing up to the system and saying, ‘No.’ Other times, he uses statesmanship to bring people together and legislate solutions that move the ball down he field.”

The push has coincided with polls that show he is losing ground in the presidential race and after his campaign and its supporters raised a paltry sum of money compared with some of his rivals, including Mr. Cruz, who raised more than $50 million between his campaign and pro-Cruz outside groups.

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