Rep. Peter King of New York on Thursday became the latest Republican to level criticism at Sen. Rand Paul over Mr. Paul’s recent comments attributing the rise of the Islamic State to GOP hawks, labeling Mr. Paul an “isolationist” who “belongs back in the 1930s,” “does not belong in the Republican party,” and is “totally unqualified to be commander in chief.”
“I think Rand Paul should be a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president,” Mr. King, who is weighing a 2016 run of his own, said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” “I mean, this is classic liberal, left-wing, anti-Bush, anti-Republican type of propaganda that’s been spewed over the years.
“I mean, Rand Paul does not belong in the Republican party when he carries that message,” Mr. King continued.
Mr. Paul has been getting such intra-party pushback from people such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania since saying in an interview that aired Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is due to “the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS.”
Mr. King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee who used to serve as that panel’s chairman, said Thursday there can be honest differences over what should be done in Iraq and Syria, “but to say that it was Republicans or Republican policies, or Lindsey Graham [or] John McCain that caused the growth of ISIS, that’s totally untrue.”
“The fact is ISIS, as it was, was basically destroyed by the end of 2008, and Rand Paul should know that,” Mr. King said. “So why he’s playing this game … whether it’s the NSA, whether it’s ISIS or whatever, he’s an isolationist — he belongs back in the 1930s with Charles Lindbergh types and right now, he belongs with the civil liberties union and the people on the left who oppose strong security measures and for him to so misread ISIS shows to me that he’s totally unqualified to be commander in chief.”
Mr. Paul’s team responded to similar criticism from Mr. Jindal Wednesday by saying the Kentucky Republican appears to be the only Republican running for president who’s willing the learn from mistakes in the Middle East to keep the country safer.