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Beltway Confidential

Preparing for 2016? Sen. Ted Cruz jumps into foreign policy fights

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,2016 Elections,Ted Cruz,Analysis

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is reportedly interested in running for president in 2016. Lately, he’s started making some noise on the foreign policy front, which seems to give credence to the idea that he’s wants to have the option of running, at least.

With the immigration debate in full swing, Cruz took to the Senate floor yesterday to fault President Obama for arming Syrian rebels. “The President would be better off focusing clearly on the one thing that is in our national security interests: securing Syria’s large stockpile of chemical weapons,” Cruz said. “We know Assad has used these weapons, and there is good reason to suspect the al Qaida-affiliated rebels would use them as well if they could get their hands on them. This poses an intolerable threat not only to our friends in the region, but also to the United States. We need to be developing a clear, practical plan to go in, locate the weapons, secure or destroy them, and then get out. The United States should be firmly in the lead to make sure the job is done right.”

He made that speech one day after issuing a response to Obama’s speech in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate. “The Berlin wall did not come down simply because the German people dreamed of freedom,” Cruz said in the statement. “The Berlin wall came down because an American President distilled his policy towards the Soviet Union into a simple formula: ‘We win, they lose.’ ” He concluded that “If history be our guide, although the notion of ‘peace with justice’ that the President mentioned ten times in his speech may sound appealing, we will be far better served by President Reagan’s policy of ‘peace through strength,’ which cannot be achieved by appeasement or yet another round of nuclear cuts by the Obama administration.”

That was Cruz’s second reminiscence about Reagan’s Brandenburg gate speech in a week, as he had previously appropriated “tear down this wall” for his own statement on the elections in Iran.

“Twenty-six years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and challenged the Soviet leader Mikael Gorbachev to tear down the wall that divided the eastern and western halves of the city,” he said in that June 16 speech from the Senate floor. “Today, I ask all Americans to join me in urging the regime in Iran to tear down the walls of political and religious persecution, to relieve the pain of unnecessary economic hardship, and to renounce the isolation caused by Tehran’s aggressive and belligerent policies.”

When asked if Cruz had ever given a foreign policy speech before, spokesman Sean Rushton said no, it wasn’t his first foreign policy speech: “He spoke on [the late British Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher a few months back.” Thatcher, who was Reagan’s top ally in concluding the Cold War.

None of this means he’s running for president, but foreign policy is outside Cruz’s traditional bailiwick as a Tea Party budget hawk with a legal, rather than military, background. Should anyone be surprised if he gets on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the next Congress?

“Foreign Relations — it just depends on what you want to do. That committee sucks,” one Republican Senate aide told the Washington Examiner. “You’ve got to be on there if you want to run for president, but that’s about it.”

If Cruz does find himself on such a baleful assignment, he’ll have other Tea Party senators to keep him company: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., received spots on Foreign Relations at the beginning of the 113th Congress. Rubio, a top-tier Republican contender, even got a spot on the Senate Intelligence Committee, too.

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