As 2016 rumors swirled earlier this year, there was a lot of attention focused on the Paul pols. In his three presidential bids, Ron Paul established himself as the GOP's loose cannon, often parting with fellow Republicans on huge issues such as foreign policy and drug-sentencing reform. His son tried hard to buck the outcast image his father created with a more pragmatic approach. But based on recent moves, this primary race is going to be Rand Paul versus the Republicans on many big ticket items.
Like father, like son, I guess.
His latest lockstep fallout comes with an amendment the Kentucky senator offered on a defense bill that would declassify 28 pages of a post-9/11 report on the attacks. Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Ron Wyden joined Paul in cosponsoring related legislation, and the bill had House support from Republican Reps. Walter Jones and Thomas Massie. Notably missing form that team, however, is any other GOP senator.
Paul said in a press conference last week that the 28-pages points to Saudi Arabia's financial involvement in the 2001 attacks.
Information revealed over the years does raise questions about [Saudi Arabia’s] support, or whether their support might have been supportive to these Al Qaeda terrorists. We can not let page after page of blanked-out documents be obscured behind a veil, leading these families to wonder if there is additional information surrounding these horrible acts.
But even though there was healthy Senate support for declassifying the documents in 2003, that interest has significantly waned. Even the elder Paul noted that the topic isn't exactly campaign friendly. "It’s politically very risky to talk about it," he said on a podcast in August.
But this isn't the first time Rand Paul decided to go it alone on national security issues. He announced this legislation on the heels of his one-man show that led to the expiration of key parts of the Patriot Act. Republicans lit into him, indicating that his stand was nothing more than political posturing that put the country in danger.
Paul has voted several times to water down restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees. And this year he refused to throw his support behind a bill that would temporarily halt the transfer of prisoners. Paul hasn't gone as far as to say that he would shut down Gitmo, but he's certainly not going with the GOP presidential circus by advocating for weaker enforcements.
What happened to our pragmatic senator? If these nascent stages of the campaign are any indication, it isn't going to be just Democrats against Republicans in 2016 — it'll be Republicans versus Rand Paul.
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