Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) faced off over military spending during Tuesday night’s Republican debate on Fox Business.
Paul started off the argument by attacking Rubio, saying his plan for new military spending was “something that looks to me not very conservative.”
Rubio defended his plan, ending with the statement: “You think defending this nation is expensive? Try not defending it.”
Rubio earned high remarks in Republican pollster Frank Luntz’s focus group. Luntz tweeted that 20 people in the focus group were more impressed with his answer.
Here’s the back and forth:
Rubio: I do want to rebuild the American military. I know that Rand is a committed isolationist. I’m not. I believe the world is a stronger and a better place when the United States is the strongest military power in the world.
Paul: How is it conservative to add a trillion-dollar expenditure for the federal government that you’re not paying for? How is it conservative to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures? You cannot be a conservative if you’re going to keep promoting new programs that you’re not going to pay for.
Rubio: We can’t even have an economy if we’re not safe. There are radical jihadists in the Middle East beheading people and crucifying Christians, a radical Shia cleric in Iran trying to get a nuclear weapon. The Chinese taking over the South China Sea. Yes, I believe the world is a safer … no, no, I don’t believe, I know … that the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.
Paul: I don’t think we’re any safer … from bankruptcy court as we go further and further into debt, we become less and less safe. This is the most important thing we’re going to talk about tonight: Can you be a conservative and be liberal on military spending? Can you be for unlimited military spending and say ‘Oh, I’m going to make the country safe’? No, we need a safe country, but you know we spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined? I want a strong national defence, but I don’t want us to be bankrupt.
Rubio: “We have to defend this nation. You think defending this nation is expensive? Try not defending it. That’s a lot more expensive. But you can do that and pay for it. You can do that and also be fiscally responsible.”
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