How Ted Cruz is trying to outmaneuver Rand Paul

Cruz is presenting himself as being in the middle of the McCain-Paul spectrum (you know, right where Reagan was). This would seem to undercut my theory that he is utilizing Hotelling’s model, but — assuming one buys Cruz’s analysis of his middle positioning on foreign policy (and I’m not so sure) — it’s important to note that foreign policy is merely one of the issues primary voters will be considering. And most likely, it won’t be the primary issue.

Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of space between McCain and Paul, and I think we would probably agree that when it comes to style, temperament, etc., Cruz is a lot closer to Paul than he is to McCain (remember the whole “wacko birds” thing?) During his CPAC speech, for example, Cruz praised Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul for being the two candidates who attracted young supporters. (His mention of McCain was less positive. “Of course, all of us remember President Dole, President McCain, President Romney,” he said.)

So basically, the Cruz strategy is to get close to Paul, while still staying toward the middle of the field. If you care about small government, both guys are good. Want to take on Obama? Check. Don’t like drone strikes, want to close the IRS, hate ObamaCare? Check. Check. Check.