Back in April, I wrote a column predicting that the most interesting foreign policy fight of the 2016 campaign was likely to be one between Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. So, while I’ve enjoyed watching their disagreements over America’s role in the world take center stage, it’s been unfortunate to observe the attempt to smear Cruz as an “isolationist.”
Though the Rubio vs. Cruz clash has been building for some time, it boiled over Tuesday night as Cruz explained why sometimes allowing dictators to stay in power was more aligned with America’s national security interest than promoting democracy. Over the course of explaining why democracy promotion wasn’t the answer in Libya, Egypt, and Syria, he said, “I believe in a America first foreign policy.” The phrase “America first,” is historically associated with Charles Lindbergh, the isolationist who led a movement advocating U.S. neutrality in World War II, an association that was exploited by his critics who have been desperately trying to distort Cruz’s foreign policy views.
In a fundraising email following the debate, Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan blasted, “the isolationist tag team duo Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.”
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin launched a similar line of attack, comparing Cruz to Lindbergh, saying that he “outdid himself last night in his courting of the Trumpkin base. In doing so, he sank further into the far-right brew of isolationism and xenophobia.”