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National Journal: Rand Paul Foreign Policy Will Kill His 2016 Chances

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From Josh Kraushaar at National Journal:

Throughout 2014, many Republican strategists quietly worried about the prospect of Rand Paul winning the GOP presidential nomination, thanks to his unconventional foreign policy views. As the thinking went, he could prevail in a divided Republican primary thanks to his committed supporters and the GOP’s renewed focus on fiscal issues where he’s aligned with the party rank and file. Against Hillary Clinton, however, his noninterventionist ideology would be a nonstarter in a general election. But with the international stage turning more dangerous, Republicans may have unwittingly found a solution to their problem.

As Paul aggressively prepares for a presidential campaign, his odds of winning the GOP nomination have never looked longer. With ISIS amassing territory in the Middle East, Russia remaining belligerent against Ukraine and the threat of a nuclear Iran growing, the public has taken a decidedly hawkish turn. The second-most-important issue for Americans is the defeat of ISIS, according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, jumping up in significance in recent months. Republicans, in particular, favor a more aggressive response to tackling terrorism. A 53 percent majority of Republicans told Quinnipiac they supported ground troops to fight terrorism in Iraq, even though 55 percent of voters overall were against it. The party ran on a muscular foreign policy in the 2014 midterms, and elected several outspoken hawks, including Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

Even in Iowa, a dovish state where Paul holds strong favorability ratings, the appetite for increased military interventionism against ISIS is high. In a new Bloomberg survey, nearly half of Republicans ranked “more aggressively pursuing terrorists” as a leading issue out of 10 tested, ranking a close second behind repealing Obamacare.

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