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Rubio straddles GOP divide in foreign policy speech

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R, sought to tread a fine line between the GOP's warring foreign policy factions on Wednesday in a speech burnishing his own credentials on global matters. 

During a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank generally known to favor a robust American presence around the world, Rubio tried to maintain a balance between disparate foreign policy views within the Republican Party. 

He said that at home, “foreign policy is too often covered in simplistic terms,” and that the two most recognized points of view – “hawks” and “doves” – were obsolete terms. 

He did, however, criticize voices in the party who have “desired to disengage and isolate America,” a possible allusion to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a critic of American interventionism and a possible rival for the Republican presidential nomination versus Rubio in 2016.

But Rubio stopped well short of the sharper criticism of Paul that proponents of American engagement, like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have leveled.

“While military might may be our most eye-catching method of involvement abroad, it is far from being our most-often utilized. In most cases, the decisive use of diplomacy, foreign assistance and economic power are the most effective ways to achieve our interests and to stop problems before they spiral into crisis,” he said.  

Rubio also took on foreign policy issues in the headlines, saying sanctions on Iran must continue until the country agrees to “completely abandon any enrichment or reprocessing capability;” criticizing China’s “illegitimate” claims in the South China Sea and saying aid to Egypt should be “conditioned so that it advances our long-term goal of a stable, democratic” country.