Ted Cruz warmly welcomed Rand Paul into the 2016 race Tuesday morning, calling him a “good friend”—even after his rival wrote him off.
“I am glad to welcome my friend Rand Paul into the 2016 GOP primary,” the Texas senator and presidential contender said in a statement on his website Tuesday morning. “Rand is a good friend, and we have worked side by side on many issues.”
It was a decidedly different tone from the one Paul used when Cruz launched his White House bid last month. Appearing on Fox News’ The Kelly File the night Cruz announced his campaign, the Kentucky senator, who officially joined the race Tuesday, drew contrasts between himself and his Senate colleague, a tea party conservative.
“I guess what makes us different is probably our approach to how we would make the party bigger,” Paul said. “I’m a big believer that you should stand on principle, … but I also think we should take those principles and try to bring in new people with them.”
Paul also knocked Cruz’s rhetoric for its apparent lack of substance.
“I’ve spent the last couple years trying to go places Republicans haven’t gone,” he said. “And maybe not just throwing out red meat, but actually throwing out something intellectually enticing to people who haven’t been listening to our message before.”
On Tuesday, Cruz took a more congenial route.
“I respect his talent, his passion, and the work he has done for Kentuckians and Americans in the U.S. Senate,” Cruz said. “His entry into the race will no doubt raise the bar of competition, help make us all stronger, and ultimately ensure that the GOP nominee is equipped to beat Hillary Clinton and to take back the White House for Republicans in 2016.”
The kind words may be an indication of how Cruz intends to deal with his colleague in the 2016 fight—or it could be the last nicety until the nomination.