Jonathan Bernstein surveyed the campaign sites of Republican Senate candidates, and to his surprise he found virtually no mention of specific foreign policy issues (especially the war in Afghanistan):
Maybe some of these candidates and their staffs just don’t know anything about foreign policy. After all, it’s not hard to think of a few reasonably safe issues that Republicans usually run on; I mentioned Israel, but there’s also UN-bashing or building missile defense systems, and hardly anyone has a position on those, either. I have no idea whether Deb Fischer or Indiana’s Richard Mourdock or Ted Cruz in Texas know anything about the world beyond the U.S. For all I know, they have plenty of foreign policy in their stump speeches, but you certainly wouldn’t know it from their web sites.
One of the regular themes in the laments over Lugar’s primary defeat was that Lugar’s foreign policy expertise was partly used against him, and so some people jumped to the very wrong conclusion that Mourdock’s win must represent a rejection of internationalism. In fact, a little more investigation revealed that Mourdock’s views were very conventional Republican internationalist ones that left no room for any consideration of reducing America’s role or military presence anywhere in the world. Mourdock talked about foreign policy during his primary campaign, and he had to be able to do so with some competence because of the incumbent in the race, but it wasn’t one of his strengths and he seems to have understood that. He de-emphasized it accordingly. To the extent that Lugar’s internationalism was an issue in the race, it was a liability for him not because of any particular policy views but because it provided a contrast with how little time Lugar spent in Indiana. The “globe-trotting” attack on Lugar was successful not because voters disapproved of his foreign policy record as such, but because it reinforced the impression that Lugar had lost touch with his home state.
Bernstein is right that most of the Republican Senate candidates aren’t advertising their specific foreign policy views on their campaign sites. Cruz is mostly silent on these issues on his site, but his site does reproduce a 2011 National Review cover story on Cruz that touches on these issues very briefly:
On foreign policy, Cruz is less than sanguine about nation building: “I don’t think we should be engaged in long-term nation building. I think there are too many nations on earth to build up, and it’s not our military’s job.” When asked about Afghanistan and Iraq, Cruz is cautious. After a few munches on his sandwich, he says, “What I don’t think is acceptable is for us just to stay there in perpetuity and try to rebuild each nation into a perfect utopia. That’s not our job and not our role. I think we have an important role stopping and killing terrorists.”
There is enough there to placate most interventionists and skeptics, but nothing that would give us any real insight into what he thinks about the U.S. role in the world. Dewhurst, his run-off opponent, also has nothing to say about these issues except to engage in a whole lot of “pro-Israel” pandering.
I expect that these candidates assume that voters are focused almost entirely on domestic and economic concerns, so their lack of attention to foreign policy won’t be noticed. Like Mourdock, most of them aren’t going to take any remotely interesting or unconventional positions, but they also may recognize that there is nothing to gain by bringing up an immensely unpopular foreign war that their party’s nominee and other leaders favor continuing indefinitely.
Update: For those interested in Cruz’s foreign policy views, this Dallas voter guide offers some clues, and they aren’t encouraging for non-interventionists and realists.