From Henry Clay to John McCain, being a senator has been a popular career for presidential candidates. In this election, Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are continuing the tradition.
Cruz is the junior senator from Texas. He is currently the chairman of United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts. He was the first major Republican to announce his candidacy in 2014. Since then, he has had some success in the polls, currently resting in fourth place with 10.7 percent of the vote.
On social issues, Cruz tends to take more conservative positions. For example, he has said that he is in favor of the death penalty, gun rights and is anti-choice. He has denied the existence of global climate change and supported a flat income tax. He has also declared himself an opponent of the joint agreement with Iran and rapprochement with Cuba, despite being of Cuban descent.
Overall, Cruz has had strong political presence in the states of the first four primaries. According to “Politico,” Cruz, though originally seen as a niche candidate, has come to be seen as a viable threat by rival campaigns and is positioned to replace Trump and Ben Carson as a front-runner if either candidate stumbles. He has attempted to appeal to constituencies that traditionally vote Democratic, using his Latino heritage as a platform.
Rubio is the junior senator from Florida but has indicated that, regardless of whether he wins the Republican presidential nomination, he will not run for re-election to the Senate. He was formerly the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He announced his candidacy for president April 13, 2014 and is currently third in the polls, with 12.3 percent of the vote.
Rubio is one of the most conservative voters in the Senate, with a ranking of 98.67 from the American Conservative Union. He has stated his support for fewer regulations on businesses and for less government control of environmental issues. He is socially conservative, as well, opposing abortion and certain provisions of the Violence Against Women Act. His immigration voting record is less consistent; while he co-authored the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, he later opposed its passage through the House of Representatives.
In a 2010 incident, a credit card statement was discovered that seemed to show Rubio using his Republican Party of Florida American Express Card for personal expenses in 2006 and 2007. This issue has been raised again in 2015 as he campaigns. Rubio was cleared of wrongdoing by the Florida Commission of Ethics in 2012 and released the statements in question, which show him personally reimbursing these personal charges in November 2015. Rubio’s conservatism could cause problems when attempting to gain the moderate vote, and his stance on international policy could lose him Tea Party votes.
As the first primaries approach, Rubio has begun to increase fundraising efforts. He is courting the support of several wealthy GOP donors. His background has boosted his platform. Rubio, like Cruz, is of Cuban descent, but Rubio was born in the United States, so questions of nationality are not an issue. His parents were working-class, which has allowed him to attempt to appeal to people of working and middle-class backgrounds.
Though neither in the lead, both of these senators have stayed firmly at the top of the extensive list of GOP candidates, and could be viable nominees for the Republican Party. The next Republican primary debate will air Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 at 8:00 pm CST on CNN.