Thursday morning, Sen. Rand Paul came out in favor of President Obama's new plan to normalize relations with Cuba, saying in a radio interview that "the 50-year embargo just hasn't worked" and that "opening up Cuba is probably a good idea." Later that day, Sen. Marco Rubio — a potential 2016 presidential rival to Paul who's called the deal "disgraceful" and a "concession to tyranny" — said on Fox News that Paul "has no idea what he's talking about."
So early Friday afternoon, Paul fired back, and directly challenged Rubio with a series of confrontational Twitter and Facebook posts. Here's his short tweetstorm:
Hey @marcorubio if the embargo doesn't hurt Cuba, why do you want to keep it?— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
Senator @marcorubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. So @marcorubio why not Cuba?— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
.@marcorubio what about the majority of Cuban-Americans who now support normalizing relations between our countries? http://t.co/0qhSOeD9Va— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
The "isolationist" jab is Paul's sarcastic attempt to repurpose an epithet that's frequently applied to him. The metaphorical reference to a "moat" is a bit strange, though, given that there already is a larger-than-moat-sized water barrier between the US and Cuba.
At press time, Sen. Rubio had not posted a social media response. But if Paul runs for president — as he looks highly likely to — it's clearer than ever that the GOP primary will feature a spirited debate over foreign policy.