Speaking at an Iowa Republican fundraising dinner on Friday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handing of Benghazi in the six months leading up to the September 11, 2012 attack should “preclude” her from holding higher office.
“It was inexcusable. It was a dereliction of duty, and it should preclude her from holding higher office,” Paul said to a rousing standing ovation on the day ABC News reported that there were 12 revisions to the original Benghazi talking points to scrub references to terrorism.
The words are sure to draw headlines, since Paul is widely perceived to be a potential challenger to Clinton in 2016. Some have said that potential matchup in a general election may give Clinton the advantage on foreign policy, and Paul was directly undercutting what will be perceived to be a strength of Clinton’s.
Paul said he still had questions for Clinton.
“First question to Hillary Clinton: Where in the hell were the Marines?” Paul said.
Paul said “Benghazi is a lot more like Baghdad than it is Paris” and there was “no excuse” not to give security to military and State Department officials who were “pleading for security” and ultimately “got none.”
Positioning for what is sure to be dynamic 2016 Republican presidential primary season is already under way. Last weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-SC) spoke at South Carolina’s Silver Elephant Dinner. And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal keynoted a fundraiser for a state Republican group in New Hampshire on Friday before Paul spoke in Iowa.
Earlier in the day, Paul said 2016 candidates should not skip Iowa like candidates in the past such as John McCain and Jon Huntsman did. Mitt Romney never committed in full to the state during the 2012 primary season.Though Paul’s libertarian brand of politics may not seem to be a perfect fit for Iowa’s socially conservative voters, libertarian-leaning politicians have gained more of an influence within Iowa’s GOP and Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker is considered an ally of Paul’s.