Cruz, Paul, Rubio Fight For 2016

The Senate’s trio of GOP presidential hopefuls are looking for ways to stay in the national spotlight during the mid-year lull before November.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are emphasizing different themes this month, each aimed at different slices of the Republican primary electorate.

Their colleagues are beginning to look outside the Senate at governors and former governors as the most promising candidates to nominate for the White House in 2016. Senior GOP senators say Republicans from outside the Beltway are more electable.  

Of the three, Cruz has positioned himself as the most explicitly critical of President Obama, zeroing in on appealing to the party’s conservative base.

He released a report this past week highlighting what he called the Obama administration’s “lawlessness” and “abuse of power.”

The 76 points include what Cruz terms the administration’s “false portrayal about events in Benghazi,” his “disregard” of drug, welfare and marriage laws, and the exemptions and waivers to ObamaCare granted by the president.

“Ted Cruz going right for the red meat,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.  “If he can at least lock up the base, he could stay around for a while in a primary” where “base voters turn out the most.”

Rubio earlier this year outlined major reforms to federal poverty programs and higher education in a bid to establish himself as a candidate who can compete for more populist voters against likely Democratic nominee Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

“Because of his ability to raise money and because of his charisma, he’s trying to market himself as a general election candidate. Many of the establishment folks trip and fall and many of the conservatives aren’t going to be able to get beyond the base,” said O’Connell.

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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