LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Establishment Republicans are falsely smearing Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) with a million dollars worth of inaccurate attack ads on his foreign policy position as he announces his 2016 presidential campaign on Tuesday—something that shows off his viability as a serious contender not only for the Republican nomination but for the White House in a general election.
“As Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is set to announce his presidential campaign on Tuesday, a television ad tethers him to President Obama’s policy on Iran as part of a $1 million advertising buy painting him as ‘dangerous,’” the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman wrote late Monday evening, hours before Paul was going to announce his candidacy. “The ad is a 30-second spot that will run on broadcast networks and on Fox News this week in the first four early primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, according to a person familiar with the buy, who provided the spot.”
Haberman wrote that it is “unusual” for an outside group—especially one such as this, which is funded with dark money sources of which are unclear at this time—“to try to swamp a candidate’s announcement day” but they are attacking Paul because he “has been viewed with deep concern by foreign policy hawks for his noninterventionist views.”
“The ad is being run by a 501(c)4 group, the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, that doesn’t have to disclose its donors and is led by Rick Reed, a strategist involved in the ‘Swiftboat Veterans for Truth’ against John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign,” Haberman wrote, underscoring the significance of the effort of the Washington establishment to try to take down Paul.
Paul’s team told Breitbart News that the attack ads show just how much both political parties’ establishments fear Paul—and just how serious a presidential candidate he will be.
“The only reason people are going after Sen. Paul is because they are threatened and worried about how well his message has resonated across party lines,” Sergio Gor, Paul’s communications director, told Breitbart News. “Sen. Paul will be the only one who can defeat the Washington machine and unleash the American dream.”
A new video from Team Paul–provided to Breitbart News early Tuesday–shows the senator walking through how he’s “proud to support Israel, America’s longtime friend and ally in the Middle East.”
“Israel’s cafes and busses are bombed, towns are victimized by hundreds of rockets, and its citizens are attacked by Palestinian terrorists,” Paul says in the video. “It’s time we took a stand for Israel by standing up to the enemies of Israel, the enemies that murder Israeli citizens. That’s why I proposed a bill called the ‘Stand With Israel Act’ to cut off the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority. As long as the Palestinian Authority is allied with Hamas, not one more tax dollar should flow to them.”
The video, which is cut like an ad, ends with two interesting things: A catch phrase that says “Rand” is the candidate who will “defeat the Washington machine” and “unleash the American dream.” It also has a standard disclosure for presidential campaign ads and says, “Paid for by Rand Paul for President, Inc.”
On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) will join the GOP establishment in attacking Paul on his presidential campaign launch day. DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will attack Paul on a press call late Tuesday morning.
This new GOP establishment ad, however, falsely accuses Paul of “standing with” President Barack Obama on Iran.
“The Senate is considering tough new sanctions on Iran,” the ad’s narrator says to open up the ad, as images of Obama, Iranian leaders, and nuclear weapons being fired float across the screen. “President Obama says he’ll veto them, and Rand Paul is standing with him. Rand Paul supports Obama’s negotiations with Iran. But he doesn’t understand the threat.”
After quoting Paul from an old 2007 interview from before Obama was even elected president, the ad then shifts to falsely claim that Paul is siding with Obama—which was impossible to do since Obama wasn’t even elected president, and certainly wasn’t negotiating with Iran on behalf of the United States, at the time.
“Rand Paul is wrong and dangerous,” the narrator says. “Tell him to stop siding with Obama because even one Iranian bomb would be a disaster.”
Not only did the ad mischaracterize Paul’s comments by trying to argue they were about Obama’s negotiations with Iran, they took his comments out of context too.
The ad cuts a lengthy answer by Paul down to a one sentence soundbite. “You know, it’s ridiculous to think they’re a threat to our national security,” the ad quotes Paul as saying from the 2007 interview.
Paul had actually given a lengthy explanation quoting—accurately, in the context of what was going on in 2007—intelligence and military officials from the George W. Bush administration, including retired U.S Army General John Abizaid, about the prospects of an Iranian threat at the time. Breitbart News went and found the full audio, and is providing Paul’s full comments on the matter here.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens on particularly the war issue,” Paul said in the interview, which was in the context of him sticking up for his father against Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. “I think you’re right that the war has become so unpopular—65 to 70 percent of people against it. On the Republican side, not only do they not have any idea about ending the Iraq war, but they want to invade Iran next. I tell people in speeches, I say we’re against the Iraq war—we have been from the beginning—but we’re also against the Iran war, the one that hasn’t started yet. The thing is I think people want to paint my father into some corner, but if you look at it intellectually—look at the evidence that Iran is not a threat. Iran cannot even refine their own gasoline. Fifty percent of their gasoline is imported from Europe. General [John] Abizaid, who’s no leftwing nut—was head of the theater over there and has retired recently, says ‘look we should discourage them from having a nuclear weapon but if they get one it is necessarily a threat to our national security.’”
The host cut in at that point to argue that “the CIA’s own national assessment says they’re not going to have one for eight years.”
“Yeah, if we could just get Mike Huckabee to understand what that is—I’m not sure he knows what the National Intelligence Estimate is,” Paul said. “But you’re right, even our own intelligence community’s consensus opinion now is that they’re not a threat. My dad says they don’t have an air force, they don’t have a navy. You know, it’s ridiculous to think they’re a threat to our national security. It’s not even that viable to say they’re a national threat to Israel. Most people say Israel has a hundred nuclear weapons.”
While the funding for the group behind the new attack ad against Paul is a secret at this time, the Times’ Haberman did reveal a little bit about the staff working on it.
“The project is being advised by a Republican firm, the Black Rock Group, with the former Capitol Hill aide Lisa Boothe as the top spokeswoman,” Haberman wrote.
Paul’s foreign policy positions have come under heavy criticism by the Washington establishment since he’s carved out a unique spot—something that falls between his father’s isolationism and the GOP establishment’s hawkishness.
Nonetheless, unlike how many in Washington would have voters nationwide believe, Paul is not an isolationist. In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News a few weeks ago, for instance, Paul called not only for the United States to arm the Kurds to fight back against ISIS—he called for the creation of an independent Kurdistan to incentivize the Kurdish forces to fight back against ISIS. He’s also supported U.S. military intervention against ISIS, assuming the administration seeks and obtains congressional approval as the U.S. Constitution calls for.
In addition, with regards to Iran, Paul signed the letter from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran warning them that whatever deal Obama cuts with them is non-binding after Obama leaves office according to the U.S. Constitution.
In an appearance at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, last month, Paul explained that the reason he signed the Cotton letter to Iran was to show Obama that “we won’t be bullied” into accepting it.
“He’s now saying, ‘I don’t care what they say, I’ll take it [Iran Nuclear Deal] to the U.N.’” Paul said of Obama. “Well the U.N. doesn’t create our laws, Congress creates our laws. Congress undoes sanctions. And it’s his misunderstanding of the separation of powers that gets us into conflict. I would not have signed the letter had he not altered immigration law on his own; had he not altered the healthcare law on his own; had he not taken us to war on his own. I worry that he doesn’t care or understand our separation of power and therefore the letter. I told Kerry in our committee the other day—I said, Secretary Kerry, this letter was for you, the message was for you as much as it was for the mullahs, to let you know there is a separation of powers and we won’t be bullied. The Congress, the legislative branch has the ultimate prerogative to repeal law.”
Paul has criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for going to war with Libya—wiping out dictator Muammar Gaddafi—and for what he calls a “jihadist wonderland” that Clinton left behind after taking out the secular dictator who was disarming his nuclear weapons, just as much as if not more than he has criticized the Bush apparatus for going to war with Iraq.
In an interview with Meet The Press while he was in Guatemala on a medical mission performing charity eye surgeries last summer—Paul was an ophthalmologist before his election to Congress and still practices frequently performing charity cataract removals here in Kentucky and abroad—Paul called Clinton a “war hawk.” In a follow-up interview with Breitbart News, Paul explained that Libya is much less safe and secure since Clinton took out Gaddafi.
“I would say the objective evidence shows that Libya is a less safe place and less secure place, a more chaotic place with more jihadist groups–and really, we’ve had two really bad things happen because of Hillary’s push for this war,” Paul said. “One is that our ambassador was killed as a consequence of not having adequate security and really as a consequence of having a really unstable situation there because of the Libyan war, and then most recently our embassy having to flee by land because they couldn’t leave via the airport because of such a disaster in Libya. So I think it’s hard to argue that the Libyan war was a success in any way. From my perspective, the first mistake they made was not asking the American people and Congress for authority to go to war.”
All of that, he argued, created the conditions conducive to the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi—an attack that claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens.
“When people are looking at choosing someone to be commander-in-chief, I think first and foremost they’re looking at whether that person has the wisdom and judgment to defend the country and make those decisions–when that 3 a.m. phone call came for Hillary, she didn’t bother to pick up the phone,” Paul said. “In Libya, they were calling–they needed reinforcements for six months. It wasn’t just the night of the attack; for six months leading up to the attack there were repeated calls for reinforcements, for security teams, for a DC-3 to fly people on a plane to be able to leave the country. So I think the compilation of mistakes leading up to Benghazi really do preclude her from consideration to become commander-in-chief.”
The falsified line of attack could be coming from people who support two other U.S. Senators who are expected to launch presidential campaigns, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Graham said on Fox News on Monday night that Paul is to “the left of Obama” on Iran. In an interview on Mark Levin’s radio program last winter–while discussing Cuba–Rubio said that Paul has “decided to adopt Barack Obama’s foreign policy.” Charles Krauthammer, a pundit and columnist who expects Rubio to win the GOP nomination despite his support for amnesty for illegal aliens via the “Gang of Eight” bill, has said that he thinks Paul will need to walk back his foreign policy viewpoints to win.