Weekly Standard columnist Steve Hayes noted that the international crises in Ukraine and Venezuela — a Russian invasion of Crimea and a government crackdown on protesters, respectively — are driving the “re-emergence of conservative hawks” pushing for a stronger U.S. role in global conflicts.
Hayes appeared on a Fox News panel with The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley and The Hill’s Elise Viebeck to discuss the big Republican names at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which began Thursday. The panelists all noted that from Ted Cruz to Rick Perry to Rand Paul, the speeches were largely libertarian-leaning.
Riley was particularly interested in Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul. “[He's] trying to pull something off here that would be sort of breaking the mold, I think,” he said. “Traditionally you have this three-legged stool, with the fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives and then defense hawks. Paul’s much more libertarian than your typical Republican candidate, so we’ll have to see if we can pull that off.”
Viebeck agreed, noting that Paul has a certain “cross-over appeal,” particularly with younger people. “At the same time, Mike Huckabee is the one who’s seen to be leading the field in polls right now,” she noted, “and I think that that shows the difference between CPAC as an event mainly for younger conservatives and the wider GOP voting base.”
Hayes saw a disconnect between the libertarian energy at CPAC and the underlying current of the Republican Party over the last month. “I think if there was a libertarian lean at CPAC this week, it actually stands in contrast to what we’ve seen in the Republican Party more broadly in the last couple of weeks,” he explained. “Particularly with the events in Venezuela, with the events in Ukraine, you’ve seen a sort of re-emergence of conservative hawks.”
“Whether it’s Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, who have taken a much more hawkish position on Ukraine and on several other issues than Rand Paul has,” he continued. “[It's] actually had the effect of isolating Rand Paul, who is the only real potential presidential candidate who is still making libertarian arguments with respect to Ukraine, with respect to the U.S. positioning more broadly on national security.”
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