Rand Paul, Ted Cruz test waters for 2016 presidential bids

New Hampshire is one in group of swing states including Florida, Ohio and Iowa that are critical during a presidential election.
By Aileen Graef  |  April 15, 2014 at 4:20 PM
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MANCHESTER, N.H., April 15 (UPI) -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tested the waters for the 2016 presidential race at a Tea Party Freedom Summit in New Hampshire.

The conservative senators rallied the people at the summit, saying that ultra-conservatism is not what is damaging the Republican party, but rather timidness and establishment politicians who are out of touch with the American people.

"Some say we just need to dilute our message, let's just be a little more like the Democrats," Paul 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."

Ted Cruz went in a different direction than Paul, and said it's not the politics that frustrates the American people, but the politicians.

"You want to know why people are frustrated out of their mind in Washington? The biggest divide we have is not between Democrats and Republicans," Cruz said. "It's between entrenched politicians in both parties, and the American people."

Both senators potential 2016 presidential hopes rest on the conservative element of the right-wing Tea Party, and according to Molly Ball at The Atlantic, Cruz had the upper hand among attendees in that demographic.

"In interviews with a dozen audience members, I could find only one who preferred Paul to Cruz. Then there was Cynthia Howard, who told me her favorite potential candidate in attendance was neither of those two. 'Donald Trump,' she said firmly," writes Ball.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump was in attendance along with talk-radio host Mike Huckabee. The more moderate Republicans who have been considered establishment favorites like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were not on the program to speak at the event. The Tea party favorites took the opportunity to slam Bush for his support for Common Core education standards and his recent comments on immigration.

There is no clear Republican frontrunner for the presidential primary, leading the candidates to get a feel for the voting environment. As for the Democrats, though former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is only considering a presidential run and has yet to announce, she is the clear favorite for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

[HuffPost Live] [The Atlantic]

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