On the day Senator Rand Paul is expected to announce he’s running for president, Republican hawks are already pushing back.
Politico reported on Monday, “A hawkish foreign policy group is planning to rough up Sen. Rand Paul in a $1-million ad campaign timed to coincide with the first week of the Kentucky Republican’s presidential bid.”
“The Foundation for a Security and Prosperous America, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, will launch the ad on broadcast TV stations in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — the four states with the earliest presidential primaries and caucuses — as well as nationally on Fox News Channel,” Politico noted.
The ad tries to tie Paul to Obama’s Iran negotiations (Paul has expressed a desire for successful diplomacy towards the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, whereas many hawks want war).
The ad ends with this line, read by a male narrator, “Rand Paul is wrong and dangerous.” “Tell him to stop siding with Obama,” the voice warns.
This is pathetic. If going the hyper-partisan route, the more hawkish potential 2016 Republican prospects–Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, John Bolton, Chris Christie–can be found siding more often with President Obama on foreign policy and national security issues than Paul.
On Libya, Lindsey Graham’s problem was that Obama wasn’t Obama enough.
When Obama wanted to take the U.S. to war in Syria in 2013, hawks only chastised the president for not wanting war sooner. Paul opposed.
Marco Rubio balked at this, saying in 2013 “I don’t think any member of this committee would vote for anything we thought was going to arm al Qaeda.”
On Syria, Marco Rubio’s problem was that Obama wasn’t Obama enough.
On the NSA’s controversial metadata collection program (warrantless spying on American citizens) that Paul opposed and Obama defended–the hawks defended with even more zeal. Jeb Bush recently blasted Obama for not defending the NSA more.
On spying on citizens, Jeb Bush’s problem was that Obama wasn’t Obama enough.
As Rand Paul enters the 2016 fray today, Republican hawks will no doubt continue to tie the senator to Obama and his foreign policy. But on some of the most significant foreign policy decisions of Obama’s tenure, hawks have really only differed with the president in degree, not substance.
Now hawks are trying to attack Paul for not wanting war with Iran, as Paul tries to lead the GOP away from being a party that reflexively wants war with everybody.
Make no mistake, today and everyday, that’s what hawks fear most. That’s why they fear Rand Paul.
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington and served as his new media director.