Ted Cruz faulted his fellow Republican senator and likely presidential rival Rand Paul on Thursday for refusing to vote for the National Security Agency reform bill, saying he was “dismayed” that the legislation never advanced last year.
At an event in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Thursday, the presidential candidate was asked by a voter why he voted in favor of extending the Patriot Act. The voter was referring to a piece of legislation that sought to curb the government’s meta data phone collection effort.
Paul, though a stalwart critic of the NSA, indeed voted against the bill, saying it didn’t go far enough. The legislation “did not fix the problem” and reauthorized expiring parts of the Patriot Act, Paul’s top adviser said Thursday.
“Others are welcome to their decision to compromise on American’s 4th Amendment rights, but not to cast it misleadingly as a vote for liberty,” Doug Stafford said.
Cruz on Thursday, trying to defend his own record on civil liberties, said Paul “is a good friend” but argued that Kentucky Republican stalled NSA reform efforts.
“Unfortunately, Rand voted no,” Cruz said. “He did say it didn’t go far enough, but it failed by one vote.”
The measure actually failed by two votes, but Cruz brushed off the second vote, saying it was simply a procedural move by then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“I’ll tell you, (Utah Sen.) Mike Lee and I were both deeply dismayed that it was our single best chance to end the bulk collection of meta data,” Cruz said.
The first-term senator from Texas made his comments on the second day of his first trip to Iowa since declaring his presidential run last week.
Paul, who’s expected to announce his own campaign next week in Kentucky, wasted no time going after Cruz once Cruz became a candidate. Just hours after Cruz announced his presidential bid last week in Virginia, Paul argued on Fox News that he was more electable than Cruz in a general election against Hillary Clinton.
Asked the next day on Bloomberg to respond to Paul, Cruz declined and described him as a “good friend.”
But Cruz’s willingness to single out his colleague’s Senate record — and the quick response from Paul’s adviser – show a point of contrast between the two Republicans and illustrates how they will likely butt heads in the primary.
CNN’s Greg Wallace contributed to this report.