Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul today said rival Marco Rubio is in position to be the “establishment’s” pick in 2016 — and Paul is telling Iowa voters to be wary of Rubio’s foreign policy agenda.
“I think Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio’s position on foreign policy is almost identical,” Paul said this morning during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that will air next Friday on Iowa Public Television.
Paul applied the “neoconservative” label to both Clinton and Rubio and he said pursing “regime change” in places like Libya and Iraq has led to chaos in the region.
“They think we’re going to knock down bad people, regimes, get rid of them and in their place somehow miraculously Jeffersonian democracy is going to spring up and I think that’s very naive. It’s very dangerous. It’s very expensive and it also leads to a great deal of death and carnage,” Paul said, “and I’m very concerned about either one of them leading the country because I think either Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio will take us back to war in the Middle East.”
Paul, who is sometimes accused of being an isolationist, said he’d pursue “realism” as president and would not send U.S. ground forces to fight in the Middle East. Paul repeatedly brought up Rubio’s name during the 28-minute interview.
“I think he is the establishment candidate to beat and it worries me because his foreign policy is way out there,” Paul said. “…I think he’d be very, very bad for the country.”
It’s not Rubio but Donald Trump who is leading in the polls in Iowa and nationally;
“I think that Donald Trump would be very worrisome as well because I think there’s a lack of maturity, there’s a lack of insight, there’s a lack of wisdom, ,” Paul said. “There’s, I think, a not-so-subtle narcissism that could lead to authoritarianism.”
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in mid-November found Paul had the support of five percent of likely Iowa Caucus-goers. Paul points to polls conducted in his home state of Kentucky which indicated a Democrat would win the governor’s race there last month. The Republican candidate won.
“I think the polls really are not very good anymore,” Paul said. “We think one of our strong suits is younger voters…I’ve yet to meet a college student who’s every done a presidential poll, so we think they’re undercounted. We think our other strong suit is independents…We think there’s a contingent of liberty voters…people who believe in less war, less intervention, smaller government and so we think those three pools — students, independents and the liberty movement — together, we think it’s enough to win.”
Paul is nearing the end of his first term in the U.S. Senate. Paul said he’ll “know by February” whether his presidential “expectations are great” or whether he’ll have to drop out of the race and redirect his energies to running for reelection to the senate in 2016.
The Iowa Caucuses will be held February 1, 2016.