- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said people like Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are “essentially the lapdogs” for President Obama’s foreign policy endeavors.

During an appearance on Fox News, Mr. Paul was read comments about him from Mr. Graham saying that “generally speaking, he’s been more wrong than right” on foreign policy and comments from Mr. McCain that he “just doesn’t understand.”

“This comes from a group of people who have been wrong about every foreign policy issue over the last two decades,” Mr. Paul said Tuesday. “I’ll give you a couple of examples where they support the president’s foreign policy and I don’t: They supported Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They supported President Obama’s bombing of Assad. They also support President Obama’s foreign aid to countries that hate us.”

“So if there’s anyone who is the most opposed to President Obama’s foreign policy, it’s me, and these people who call loudest to criticize me are great proponents of President Obama’s foreign policy,” Mr. Paul said, not directly naming either senator. “They just want to do it 10 times over. But I’m the only one actually standing up and saying the war in Libya was a mistake, the bombing of Assad would make ISIS stronger, the arms to the Islamic rebels would make ISIS stronger. So I’m really the one standing up to President Obama, and these people are essentially the lapdogs for President Obama, and I think they’re sensitive about that.”

Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham, two of the most hawkish GOP voices in Congress, have also been frequent critics of Mr. Obama’s handling of overseas events. Mr. Graham could be a rival of Mr. Paul’s in the 2016 presidential race.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mr. Graham said Mr. Paul’s accusations “would be news to the White House” and that he’s repeatedly criticized the administration’s leadership.

Mr. Paul’s foreign-policy platform seems to be shifting, Mr. Graham added, yet still amounts to being “one step behind leading from behind.”

“If he’s the nominee of the party, I think we risk giving up the central issue of the 2016 campaign, which is foreign policy,” he said.

At the same time, Mr. Graham said he would support Mr. Paul if he comes the GOP’s standard bearer.

“I like Sen. Paul. None of this is personal to me,” he said.

For his part, Mr. Paul said during the appearance that he’ll “play nice if they’ll play nice.”

“But if they’re going to trot around the country criticizing me, I’m going to make sure that the American public knows that these are precisely the people [who] support President Obama’s foreign aid, Libyan war, and Syrian war and they need to explain themselves,” he said.

Mr. Paul, who has tried to push back against the isolationist label some have thrown at him, called himself a “Reagan Republican.”

“I believe in a strong national defense — I believe in peace through strength,” he said. “I think that intervention is not always the answer and that some interventions lead to unintended consequences.”

He cited the instability in Libya as an example.

“Their foreign policy is so disjointed, confusing and chaotic that really, people need to re-examine those who want to be involved in every war,” he said. “I say we get involved when there’s an American interest. I think we do have to militarily stop ISIS, but I am sad that ISIS got a lot of the weapons from interventionists in my party and the president who gave them the weapons indirectly.”

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