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war and peace

Senate Republicans are deeply divided on the next step for foreign policy

Whither President-elect Donald Trump's foreign policy? Well, if he's listening to Senate Republicans for guidance, the incoming president is receiving mixed messages indeed.

Pushing Trump to embrace his more aggressive impulses is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who responded to Trump's selection of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state with skepticism. "While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination," Rubio said in a statement. During the GOP primary campaign, the Florida senator argued Trump is too eager to scale down U.S. military engagement abroad.

By contrast, the libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argues a more restrained foreign policy is exactly what Trump should pursue. His objection is not to Tillerson but to Trump's rumored interest in former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton for deputy secretary of state. It's a nomination Paul has pledged to block, because Bolton, a hardline neoconservative, "still believes in regime change" and is "still a big cheerleader for the Iraq War."

Both senators have national followings who back their foreign policy visions, though Rubio has more allies on the Hill.