CPAC Speakers Knock Obama on Ukraine

CPAC Speakers Knock Obama on Ukraine
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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- At CPAC, international affairs traditionally take a back seat to domestic policy.

But with the crisis in Ukraine dominating headlines this week, several prominent speakers had a lot to say on Thursday about the U.S. relationship with Russia and how it relates to the exercise of American power abroad.

Though the growing rift between noninterventionists and hawks has dominated recent foreign policy discourse within the GOP, Republicans hailing both ends of that ideological spectrum agreed on at least one thing when it comes to Ukraine: The Obama administration has fumbled the issue.

Here is what some of them had to say at CPAC:

 Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton: “Today, can you just imagine Ronald Reagan dealing with Vladimir Putin? ... [In Ukraine], Vladimir Putin has a strategy and Obama has nothing. Putin has a growing defense budget and ours is shrinking.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: “In Europe, Vladimir Putin is trying to reconstitute the power and the influence of the former Soviet Union. I say this to you because of the number of young people that are here today. I want you to consider what this will look like in 10 years … if you inherit a world where Russia continues to hold its neighbors hostage, not just because of its military capabilities, but also because of dependency on Russian oil and gas.”

American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas: “There’s a consensus that America appears weak when it should not. … Frankly, I haven’t seen anybody talk about bringing troops on the ground to Ukraine or anything like that, so I think there’s a consensus to the limitations of our involvement, but I also believe there’s a consensus that the United States needs to speak clearly to Russia about what the consequences are for their aggressive behavior, and none of us believe that the president or Secretary Kerry have moved in that direction.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: “The people of Ukraine have seen Russian tanks move into their sovereign land.”

Donald Trump: “You look at what [Putin] is doing with President Obama—he’s like toying with him. He’s toying with him. So he has the Olympics. The day after the Olympics, he starts with Ukraine. The day after. How smart. You know, he didn’t want to do it during the Olympics. Boom — the day after. … Most of the wealth comes right from [Crimea]. That’s the area with the wealth, so that means the rest of Ukraine will fall and it’s predicted to fall fairly quickly.”

Louisiana Gov. Bob Jindal: “We’ve seen the president of Russia invade a neighboring country while our president wants to downsize our military.… [President Obama] doesn’t understand that a strong America leads to a peaceful, more stable world.”

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com.

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