Watching Ted Cruz spar with Marco Rubio over foreign policy and civil liberties in the fifth Republican presidential debate, with occasional assists from Rand Paul, brought to mind a pair of recent columns by my Examiner colleague Tim Carney.
In the first piece, Tim asked why Paul kept talking answering questions about what he would do about ISIS by restating his opposition to invading Iraq. In the second, he noted that the Kentucky senator had become a message candidate who was more eager to criticize Rubio, with whom he is competing for relatively few votes, rather than trying to win back some votes he may have lost to Cruz.
As it happens, Paul didn't spare Cruz in his recent ad hitting his two fellow freshman senators turned Republican presidential candidates on refugees. But Tim's second column answers the question he poses in his first.
When Paul was still trying to reach beyond his base and win the nomination, he talked a lot about how he would hit ISIS, to the point where many libertarians were alienated. Since Paul has become more of a message candidate, it makes little sense for him to emphasize that part now so he has stopped doing so. It makes more sense for him to emphasize where he's different from the rest of the field.