Rand Paul, Ted Cruz test presidential waters

April 16, 2014 - 8:23:45 am

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire: Conservative Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz tested the 2016 presidential waters at an event on Saturday in the influential state of New Hampshire at which potential opponents from the more moderate wing of the party did not appear.

The “Freedom Summit” rally was the latest in a series of stops for Cruz and Paul, who are hoping to win the favour of the party’s right wing for potential White House bids.

The event was co-hosted by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a wing of the group funded by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers that is the single largest advertiser in the 2014 election cycle so far. Among other speakers was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 and is seen as a potential 2016 contender. Paul, a favourite among libertarians, cautioned Republicans against compromising.

“Some say we just need to dilute our message, let’s just be a little more like the Democrats,” the Kentucky Republican told the audience. “You think that’s a good idea? Hogwash. It’s exactly the wrong thing to do. Our problem isn’t that we are too bold. Our problem is that we are too timid.” Among the leading moderate Republicans, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s 2016 prospects have been clouded by the “Bridgegate” traffic scandal, while former Florida Governor Jeb Bush appears in no hurry to join the race for the White House.

That has created an opportunity for others to try to make inroads in New Hampshire where White House candidates often preview their campaign messages.