Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says despite a crowd of competitors for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination, he doesn’t find it difficult to stand out from the pack.
“I think it’s rather easy for me,” Paul said this morning during an interview with KROS Radio. “I’m the only one really opposed to the domestic spying program. I’m the only one that says the NSA has gone too far…I’m really one of the few to be honest about intervention in the Middle East, to acknowledge that there are unintended consequences and that we need to look before we leap.”
According to Paul, most of those who are running supported “Hillary’s war” in Libya.
“They just wanted more of it. They wanted boots on the ground and I think the question needs to be asked of every candidate: ‘If you had it to do all over again, would you still be for toppling and killing Gaddafi? Do you think we’re better off?’ Paul said. “I think, without question, we’re worse off.”
Senator Paul is campaigning today in eastern Iowa. The trip comes after Paul stirred up controversy earlier this week by suggesting ISIS exists because “hawks” in his party promoted risky intervention in the Middle East. Paul today argued Islamic militants were able to “snatch up” weapons the U.S. gave to forces in Syria fighting against that nation’s dictatorship.
“That’s an incontrovertible fact and ISIS did grow stronger as we were pouring weapons into the Syrian civil war…When we intervene, we have to think through the consequences of intervention. Degrading Assad and making Assad weaker by putting arms into the other side of the civil war did allow ISIS to grow stronger…because we were also weakening Assad, who was an opponent of ISIS,” Paul said.
“…The people who want to criticize me will have to answer to that and I think it’s a good factual debate to have.”
The Kentucky senator has also taken heat from some of his rivals for seeking an end to the government’s bulk collection of telephone data. Paul today countered that the “vast majority” of Americans agree with him.
“Inside the beltway there may be some naysayers,” Paul said, “but I think they have not yet caught up with public opinion.”
Paul met with supporters early this morning at a financial services company in Clinton and stopped at a Davenport baseball park over the noon hour. He’ll have a mid-afternoon meet and greet at a coffee shop in Muscatine. Early this evening, Paul will appear in Davenport at an event to raise money for Senator Chuck Grassley’s 2016 reelection campaign.
(Reporting in Clinton by Dave Vickers of KROS Radio; additional reporting and editing by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)