Texas Sen. Ted Cruz invoked President Reagan's foreign policy and took a subtle shot at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio during a speech in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Tuesday.
"It is clear now more than ever that far from being the hectoring menace to multiculturalism that Mr. Obama set out to humble, the United States is an indispensable force for global order and stability," Cruz said. "And now after seven years of neglect it is time for America once again to prioritize its strong, advanced and robust military.
"I am confident that if we put in the hard work, we can, as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, rebuild our military so that it will be feared by our enemies and trusted by our allies."
Unlike his routine stump speeches throughout early nominating states where Cruz roams the stage speaking without notes, the senator stood behind a podium and read his remarks aloud. He also stood with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a veteran and former 2016 presidential candidate who endorsed Cruz's campaign aboard the USS Yorktown.
In anticipation of Cruz's speech, Rubio's campaign attacked Cruz in an email to reporters titled, "Cruz BusTED on National Security," a play on Cruz memorabilia that often appears with the slogan "TrusTED."
"Senator Cruz will say or do anything to win an election, including lying to cover up his own weak record on national security," said Rubio spokesman Joe Pounder in an email. "Senator Cruz is the only candidate in this race who has consistently sided against our military and intelligence professionals and whose foreign policy vision changes with his poll numbers. When it comes to national security, Marco Rubio is the only candidate with the actual experience and policies needed to keep America safe."
Cruz appeared to take a shot at Rubio in his remarks, when he mentioned other Republicans who sided with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the United States' approach toward Libya. A pro-Cruz super PAC recently began distributing 100,000 mailers to Nevadans featuring Rubio's support for "reckless war in Libya" with one week to go until that state's Republican caucus.
Cruz ranks second in the Washington Examiner's newest GOP presidential power rankings. Rubio ranks third.