Published February 16, 2016 by Jim Bridenstine (National Review)
As a military pilot and veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I am proud that this week Ted Cruz showed us again why he is the candidate best qualified to be commander-in-chief. Yesterday he laid out a serious, detailed plan for a Reagan-style rebuild of our military that will enable us to utterly defeat the radical Islamic terrorists who have vowed to destroy us. Senator Cruz understands that the essence of “peace through strength” is having the strength to maintain peace, and he’s ready to do this hard work. I am proud to have endorsed him and will be proud to serve under him.
Ted Cruz has proven to be a leader who is not afraid to stand up to bullies. He is true to his word. As a combat veteran, I am convinced Ted Cruz is the leader who will keep us safe, support our troops, and defend our nation.
Although Marco Rubio has promised not to “badmouth other Republicans,” he and his campaign are now spreading the falsehood that Cruz doesn’t care about our troops and are wrongly smearing a good man. They should know better.
The Rubio team has criticized Cruz for voting against National Defense Authorization Acts, suggesting that he’s weak on defense. But Cruz had substantive objections to some of provisions in the acts, not to their funding levels. In legislation, sometimes you have to vote no to get to a better yes. You do that because you care about the troops and the Constitution they are sworn to defend.
He slams Cruz’s principled stand, but Rubio didn’t even show up to vote on final passage of the NDAA in October 2015. The next month, he skipped as well the defense-appropriation vote that actually funds the military.
Cruz was there to do his job and voted to fund our troops. Moreover, in March 2015 he voted for Rubio’s own amendment that would have raised the defense budget from $620 to $697 billion for fiscal year 2016.
And Cruz has laid out the most detailed plan to rebuild the military. It includes increasing our Army to at least 525,000 trained and fully equipped soldiers, more than in Rubio’s proposal. Cruz’s plan increases equipment as well. It rebuilds our Navy, ensuring that we have at least 350 ships, and our Air Force, ensuring at least 6,000 aircraft, including airplanes and 1,500 tactical fighter aircraft.
Under Cruz , we can be assured that we have the strongest military in the world. To suggest otherwise doesn’t match the record or the character of my friend and colleague Ted Cruz .
Americans’ real concern should be with Rubio’s candidacy. He’s made deals with Democrats at great cost to our national security. As a member of the Gang of Eight, not only did he support massive amnesty while failing to secure the border, but he also supported giving the president unilateral authority to admit more refugees who have not been properly vetted. And he’s stood by that dangerous proposition. Senator Cruz and other leaders in the Senate have introduced legislation to ban the entry of not-properly-vetted refugees from terrorist-ridden regions. Senator Rubio has chosen not to support the measure.
— Jim Bridenstine is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a Navy pilot, he flew the E2-C Hawkeye in combat missions off the USS Abraham Lincoln. He represents Oklahoma’s first congressional district.