The Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC), which was founded in 1991, has long promoted libertarian ideals within the GOP. In both 2008 and 2012, the group endorsed Ron Paul for president and has supported liberty Republicans such as Congressmen Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).
The RLC endorsed Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate in 2012, just as they had Rand Paul in 2010. Both Ron and Rand Paul endorsed and campaigned for Cruz in 2010.
Now that both Paul and Cruz are running for president, some RLC members are split between the two candidates. In the group’s straw poll at their national convention in October, Paul edged out Cruz.
“The RLC membership is diverse and while most of us support Rand Paul, Ted Cruz has his supporters too,” said RLC Vice Chair Dave Nalle. “For most of us, Cruz would be an acceptable second choice if Paul were to drop out,” he added.
One RLC national board member however, says that although he sees the two candidates as equally acceptable, he holds a different view of what it takes to win.
Steve Hoffman, who made news recently for an apparent defection from Paul’s camp to Cruz’s, describes himself as a longtime Ron Paul supporter who simply thinks Cruz’s campaign is more effective.
“In today’s political environment, it’s extremely important that a liberty movement candidate be the Republican nominee for president,” said Hoffman, explaining that both Paul and Cruz fit that bill. Bu Hoffman believes Cruz is likelier to win, especially in his home state of South Carolina.
Doug Stafford, a senior advisor to Rand Paul’s presidential campaign, disputed the claim that Cruz has a better shot, saying, “we are organized heavily in all of the early states.” Stafford also made it clear that he does not believe there are two liberty candidates in the race, explaining his view that Rand Paul has the overwhelming support of those who are truly concerned with liberty.
“Rand Paul was candidate who led the fight to expire the Patriot Act while Ted Cruz voted to renew it,” said Stafford. “Rand Paul fought to end unconstitutional ban on bulk collection, while Ted Cruz bragged about increasing the amount of spying we do on stage in the last debate,” he added.
Hoffman, though he is currently working as a paid canvasser for Keep the Promise, a Cruz supporting political action committee, insists that he hasn’t formally endorsed Cruz.
“I’m in no position to endorse anybody,” said Hoffman, noting that he doesn’t want people to confuse his official capacity on the RLC’s board with his choice to work for a Cruz PAC.
“It would be inappropriate for me to come out and say I endorse so-and-so,” explained Hoffman. “The RLC goes through a well-established, documented process before we endorse anybody.” Presently, RLC board members are walking through that process and are expected to make their formal presidential endorsement this month, prior to the February 1st Iowa caucus.
As RLC members discuss their endorsement, it’s Nalle’s view that both Paul and Cruz are much better on core liberty issues such as adherence to the Constitution and government accountability when compared to all other candidates in the Republican field.
“I see Paul as the gold standard and Cruz as silver, but the rest are zinc or tin,” said Nalle.