Rand Paul: POTUS’ strikes on Syria were ‘an inappropriate way to start a war’ – Michelle Mark April 8, 2017

US Syria missile strike

In this image from video provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, April 7, 2017. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP

Sen. Rand Paul said Saturday that recent missile strikes on Syria were “not in the national interest” and “an inappropriate way to start a war,”  and that President Donald Trump should have sought approval from Congress before acting.

Paul told CNN anchor Michael Smerconish that the move went against Trump’s previous denunciations of American involvement in regime changes. Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump had vigorously criticized previous administrations’ interventions in Iraq and Libya.

“Involving ourselves in civil wars throughout the world is really not the job of America’s foreign policy,” Paul said. “Some will say maybe this is an exception to the rule, and I hope, frankly, that this is an exception. That he won’t believe that we can actually solve the Syria war militarily.”

Paul also shot down the argument that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) could be applied to Syria, and said that 9/11, which precipitated that authorization, had nothing to do with Syria or its leader Bashar Assad.

“People who make that argument are not intellectually serious people. In fact, I think they’re dishonest people,” Paul said.

“The generation of 9/11 certainly shouldn’t bind us to a forever war in the Middle East. I think it’s absurd, it’s wrongheaded, and, frankly, intellectually dishonest.”

Paul also told Smerconish that the photographs and videos that emerged after this week’s chemical attack in Syria, which killed at least 80 people in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, were heartbreaking, but not justification for war.

Horrific images of starved or injured children and civilians are broadcast every day, Paul said, yet the US does not involve itself in every such incident.

“You’d almost not be human to not be emotionally swayed by it,” Paul said. ” There are atrocities throughout the world. We just have to decide when we are going to intervene as a country, when we are going to put our young men and women — put their lives on the line.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t have great sympathy, but we have to debate when and where we go to war. That’s what our founding fathers asked us to do.”

View the full exchange below: 

Rand Paul remains on main debate stage – By STEVEN SHEPARD, HADAS GOLD and DANIEL STRAUSS 12/13/15 10:18 AM EST Updated 12/13/15 04:23 PM EST

CNN adjusts its rules to keep him in Tuesday’s main event.

Rand Paul pauses after an interview in the spin room following the debate.

Nine candidates will take the main stage for Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate, including Rand Paul. | AP Photo

Rand Paul will be on the main stage at Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas after CNN tweaked its rules at the last minute to add a ninth podium for the Kentucky senator, the network announced Sunday.

The candidates who will be on the main stage: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie and Paul.

The top five candidates qualified as a result of their standing in national polls. Kasich, Fiorina and Christie – who was in the undercard debate last month – made the cut due to their poll numbers in New Hampshire. Candidates qualified if they achieved an average of 3.5 percent in national polls conducted since late October – or 4 percent in either Iowa or New Hampshire.

The undercard debate, which will air Tuesday at 6 p.m., will consist of lower-polling candidates Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Rick Santorum. Huckabee is the only one of the four who had previously been on the main stage.

According to POLITICO’s calculations, Paul was at 2.8 percent nationally, 3.7 percent in Iowa and 3 percent in New Hampshire. CNN didn’t immediately explain how Paul qualified for the main debate on the air, but in an online story, a CNN Politics reporter wrote that Paul “was saved at the 11th hour by showing viability in Iowa” according to a new Fox News poll showing Paul at 5 percent. But, according to POLITICO’s calculations, that only bumped Paul up to a 3.7-percent average in the state, still short of the 4-percent threshold that had been announced.

The Paul campaign had been lobbying the network publicly over the weekend to let the senator into the debate. The campaign released a statement Saturday night, saying “rounding up should be applied” when CNN chooses the field. And on Sunday morning, a number of Paul campaign officials and consultants were posting on Twitter, “#LetRandDebate.” Operatives for the campaign highlighted a note from chief strategist Doug Stafford that read “Not going anywhere folks. And demanding fairness from CNN. Rand is 5th in multiple polls. Polling is all [over] the map. No reason to leave a 50 state national campaign off main stage. Do it right.”


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House GOP faces shutdown crisis – By Scott Wong, Rebecca Shabad and Sarah Ferris – 09/08/15 05:41 PM EDT

House Republicans will huddle in a pivotal closed-door meeting Wednesday morning as they face mounting pressure to defund Planned Parenthood — including threats to shut down the government.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who’s seeking the GOP presidential nomination, will headline a rally with several pro-life groups outside the Capitol on Thursday, calling on Congress to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in the spending bill that must be passed by Oct. 1 to avert a shutdown.

Conservative outside group Heritage Action for America says at least 28 House Republicans have signed or plan to sign a letter demanding that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team block Planned Parenthood funding. The group is urging leaders to hold a special conference meeting to discuss “atrocities” carried out by the nonprofit healthcare group.

If that many House Republicans stick to those demands, Boehner would have no wiggle room to pass a stopgap government spending bill. House Democrats would be expected to vote against legislation blocking funding for the group, which is under fire after the release of a series of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the donation of tissue from aborted fetuses.

Conservatives want to redirect money to federally approved community health centers that don’t perform abortions or donate fetal tissue for research, said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

“It is the most logical position you could have,” Jordan, who signed the Heritage Action letter, argued in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Asked if he was willing to shut down the government to block Planned Parenthood’s funding, Jordan sought to deflect blame to Democrats. He suggested President Obama and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) believe that Planned Parenthood should receive tax dollars instead of U.S. troops, veterans and women’s health programs.

“This idea that somehow Republicans are responsible is just ridiculous,” Jordan said.


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Candidates compete to go viral – By Jesse Byrnes and Mark Hensch September 05, 2015, 03:58 pm

Candidates are competing hard to go viral on social media in 2016.

President Obama may be big on selfie sticks, which he recently took to the Alaskan wilderness, but campaigns are looking for even more creative ways to court voters and drum up enthusiasm.

On the Democratic side, the hashtag #FeelTheBern has become synonymous with Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) upstart campaign and helped translate the online presence to large crowds on the trail.

“It takes a village, and the village really showed up,” said Winnie Wong, co-founder of People for Bernie, the group behind the popular hashtag.

On the Republican side, the 17 candidates are forced to consider fresh approaches to distinguish themselves from one of the most crowded fields in recent memory.

Candidates have been used social media to hit at their rivals, with Jeb Bush going hard at GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Here’s a look at some of the most memorable attempts by campaigns to go viral this summer:

Rand Paul’s chainsaw to the tax code

One of the more memorable viral attempts came with Sen. Rand Paul’s (Ky.) mid-July videotaking a chainsaw to the tax code in an effort to “kill” it. In the clip, which got more than 150,000 YouTube views and was teased more than a week earlier on Instagram, Paul also torched stacks of papers and fed them to a wood chipper to sell his plan for a simplified tax code and flat tax rate of 14.5 percent.

Following that stunt, Paul’s campaign released a smartphone app allowing Apple and Android users to create memes and selfies bearing his likeness. The app reportedly contains a hidden arcade game letting players zap the campaign logos of Paul’s rivals.

Lindsey Graham’s cellphone

After Donald Trump revealed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) cell phone number in late July, the senator starred in an elaborate video with IJReview instructing people on “how to destroy your cell phone.”

The viral response making light of getting “doxed” by the celebrity real estate tycoon led to days of social media buzz and jokes, turning the tables on an embarrassing event.

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The moment Rand Paul has been waiting for – By MANU RAJU 5/30/15 4:31 PM EDT

He plans to force the expiration of a surveillance law he’s been railing against for years — but the political risks are enormous.



Hours before the Senate’s PATRIOT Act standoff hit its peak this month, Republican leaders thought they had Rand Paul figured out. He would object, rail on the matter on the Senate floor — and then let at least a temporary extension through.

“I don’t agree with Sen. Paul on this issue, but I think he’s been a constructive guy,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said just before the week-long recess.

A day later with the clock past midnight and the Senate in a standstill largely because of Paul’s objections, Cornyn wasn’t nearly as generous.

“I’m a little surprised,” a perplexed Cornyn said. “Sen. Paul is asking for something that nobody will agree to.”

Paul’s handling of the PATRIOT Act issue has caught many of his GOP colleagues by surprise — and he now plans to drag the fight days past a midnight Sunday deadline, forcing the sweeping surveillance law to expire. Despite repeated cajoling by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the Memorial Day recess, Paul plans to block his fellow Kentuckian’s efforts to expedite debate, he told POLITICO Saturday.

“Let me be clear: I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security. I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies,” Paul said in a statement. “But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them. In fact, we must not. There has to be another way. We must find it together. So tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program.”

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Last night NSA scare tactics finally stopped working – Updated by Timothy B. Lee on May 23, 2015, 10:50 a.m. ET

There was drama in the Senate last night, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struggled to extend a Patriot Act provision that supporters say allows the government to conduct mass surveillance of Americans’ calling records. (Opponents think the program is illegal regardless, but the legislative provision has become a focal point for the fight over the larger issue.) But his fellow Kentucky Republican senator, Rand Paul, led the charge to stop him. Wrote the Hill:

The battle between the two Kentucky Republicans spilled over on the Senate floor, with Paul using procedural tactics to force the chamber into an early Saturday vote. He then used his leverage to kill off McConnell’s repeated attempts to reauthorize the expiring National Security Agency (NSA) programs — first for two months, then for eight days, then for five, then three, then two.

It’s a tactic advocates of mass surveillance have used repeatedly in recent years:

  • They drag their feet on legislation to curtail NSA spying authority until the last possible minute.
  • They argue that it would be reckless to let old spying authority expire without an alternative to put in its place.
  • Terrified of appearing soft on terrorism, members of Congress have repeatedly extended current authority without changes.

But it didn’t work this time, and for good reason.

The NSA program the Senate was debating last night, which collects phone records of every American, was never authorized by Congress in the first place. At least that’s the view of the Second Circuit Appeals Court, which ruled the program was illegal earlier this month. While the secretive FISA court disagrees with the Second Circuit, the latter’s ruling has stiffened the spines of those who believe the program was illegal from the outset.

And two years after the phone records program was revealed by NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden, the program’s advocates still haven’t produced any convincing evidence that the program makes us safer.

There’s broad agreement that the government should have access to the calling records of suspected terrorists, of course. But there’s no reason to think it’s helpful to collect the calling records of millions of innocent Americans just in case one of them happens to be a terrorist. And in particular, there’s no reason to think that a few days or weeks without bulk collection of telephone records will lead to a rash of terrorist attacks. The US government still has a number of ways to get the calling records of terrorism suspects — these mechanisms just involve more court oversight.

Finally, after years of repeating this tactic, it’s become clear that it’s just that — a tactic. Mass surveillance advocates are going to use it over and over to keep current law in place indefinitely. Only by saying no to short-term extensions and being willing to actually let the program lapse will reformers have the leverage to insist on serious reforms of the spying agency.


The Senate Proving Ground – By Susan Milligan April 20, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EDT

Despite current candidates’ aspirations, running for president as a sitting senator has often been a recipe for losing.

Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio

Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are all officially running for president.

For nearly a half-century in American politics, it was the kiss of death.

Being a sitting U.S. senator should, on paper, give a presidential hopeful the perfect perch from which to launch a campaign. There’s the platform for big ideas, the opportunity to show leadership on an issue or one’s ability to negotiate deals. And there’s the free media coverage that comes with having a very public job in the public sector.

But after a young Massachusetts senator named John F. Kennedy won the White House in 1960, the Senate for many years served as a breeding ground for unsuccessful presidential hopefuls. Some – like Kansas Republican Bob Dole, Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry and Arizona Republican John McCain – secured their parties’ nominations but lost in the general election. Not until 2008 did another young, first-term senator – Barack Obama of Illinois – break the curse of no sitting senator winning the White House.

There are now three (with possibly more to come) lawmakers who are hoping that Obama’s electoral success will be a trendsetter. After announcements by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul that they would run for the Republican nomination, a third first-term GOPer, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, entered the race last week. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont are also mulling bids.

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Insiders view Paul as strong early state contender – By KATIE GLUECK 4/3/15 6:01 AM EDT

Illustration by POLITICO / Getty Image

On the eve of his expected presidential announcement, Republican insiders in Iowa and New Hampshire say Rand Paul is a top contender in those early states next year — and they agree that for better and for worse, his father, Ron Paul, looms large over his candidacy.

According to this week’s survey of the POLITICO Caucus, a bipartisan group of political operatives, activists and key players from Iowa and New Hampshire, about two-thirds of all respondents said Paul can win their state in the caucuses or primary. But to do so, many said, the Kentucky senator has to build on the base cultivated by his father, the libertarian icon and former presidential candidate.

While former Rep. Ron Paul’s network of supporters is proving to be an asset, the elder Paul’s isolationist views — which many associate with Rand Paul — are also contributing to what is by far the senator’s biggest liability: his positions on foreign policy and national security. A majority of respondents, when asked an open-ended question about Paul’s greatest weakness, pointed to one or the other.

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2016 brawl breaks out on Senate floor

Paul lashes Cruz, Rubio for ‘dangerous’ and ‘reckless’ positions on government spending.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, center, accompanied by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, right, express their frustration after the Senate passed a bill to fund the government, but stripped it of the defund

The 2016 Republican nomination contest spilled onto the Senate floor Thursday, turning a marathon budget debate into a battle over which candidate is prepared to lead the country at a time of war.

Four GOP senators are trying to gain the upper hand on the commander-in-chief test — Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham — and their competition was on vivid display as the Senate took up a Rubio plan to pump tens of billions of dollars more into the Pentagon budget. Paul blasted the idea because the new spending wasn’t offset by other cuts. And caught in the middle was Cruz, who’s pitching himself as a fiscal conservative who can appeal to the hawkish and libertarian wings of the GOP but ultimately sided with Rubio and Graham.

In an interview with POLITICO, Paul lambasted his foes for engaging in “reckless” and “irresponsible” behavior, showing that they lacked the “courage” and conviction to rein in the country’s mountain of debt. He said there are now two camps in the GOP primary field: one that cares about the debt, and another that does not.

“I think there are a great deal of problems for people who want to argue that they are fiscal conservatives and yet would simply borrow hundreds of billions of dollars for defense,” Paul said. “I think it is irresponsible and dangerous to the country to borrow so much money to add into defense.”

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Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/ted-cruz-marco-rubio-rand-paul-senate-pentagon-budget-116434.html#ixzz3VZuCXGue

Senate passes GOP budget after marathon of amendment votes – By Jordain Carney and Rebecca Shabad March 27, 2015, 03:32 am

The Senate approved a Republican budget resolution just after 3:00 a.m. Friday morning in a 52-46 vote, capping a grueling day of floor work that required lawmakers to take sides on dozens of amendments.

Only two Republicans voted against the budget: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Cruz announced this week he is running for president in 2016, and Paul is expected to do the same shortly.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who are also considered likely to run for the White House, voted in favor of the budget.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) abstained.

Republicans could only afford three defections on the budget, since no members of the Democratic caucus supported it. That left GOP leaders with little margin for error as they sought to approve the plan, which calls for cutting $5.1 trillion from federal spending over 10 years.

Passage of the budget represents a victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the Budget Committee chairman who carefully shepherded the plan through several political minefields in the upper chamber.

Still, the fight is far from over.

The House passed its own budget resolution Wednesday, which means that the two chambers will now have to form a conference committee to resolve their differences after the Easter recess.

Earlier Thursday, McConnell said the Republican budget delivers on the promises the party made in 2014, when voters returned them to power in the upper chamber for the first time in eight years.

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