Paul Goes Into Enemy Territory and Emerges Victorious
On Friday night, the Democratic Presidential Candidates met in Rock Hill, South Carolina for a forum to discuss current issues. The forum was hosted by MSNBC in response to an outcry by some that the Democratic National Committee had held too few debates. However, the highlight of the evening may have perhaps occurred before the forum, when Rand Paul appeared on set in front of the Winthrop Coliseum (where the forum was being held) for an episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews.
At a point in the race when numerous Republican candidates have spent considerate amounts of time complaining about media bias, Paul showed no fear as he interviewed on perhaps the most liberal network on television, let alone at the scene of the Democrats’ forum. This in itself shows the unique appeal that Paul has in attracting Democrats and Independents; one which is shared by no others in the Republican field. Even as some Sanders and Clinton supporters jeered, Paul appeared completely at ease.
Paul and Matthews began their discussion on the recent allegations leveled against Ben Carson, who has been accused of lying about being offered a scholarship at West Point. Paul said he thought the story was overblown and that he has experienced similar overreactions when he has mentioned “having a degree” in biology, when he actually skipped a year of college to attend medical school.
The conversation soon shifted to one on foreign policy, centered around recent comments by George HW Bush that George W Bush‘s foreign policy advisers (including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) took advantage of the younger Bush and helped lead the US into negative predicaments in the Middle East.
Paul explained that, “Cheney’s been wrong about most foreign policy decisions for the last thirty years,” and that the war in Iraq has destabilized the region. Matthews next brought up the newly-found love affair that some Republican hawks have with Marco Rubio, but Paul used this opportunity to bring up an often-missed point: the many neoconservatives in the GOP field share a common foreign policy with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Paul pointed out that Clinton supported the wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria, and now also supports a no-fly zone in Syria. Matthews quickly asked if Paul thought Clinton is a hawk, to which Paul responded with an answer that took the dozens of Democratic spectators in attendance by surprise.
Said Paul, “I think Hillary Clinton is a neocon.” He went on to suggest that if Clinton is elected President, the US will find itself once again embroiled in war in the Middle East.
Paul completed his interview by questioning the diplomatic policies of some of his Republican competitors, like Rubio and Carly Fiorina, who have pledged to have no discussions with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. Paul noted that even throughout the Cold War, both Republicans and Democrats were willing to enter diplomacy with the Soviet Union. He emphasized that this is a “recipe for disaster” and could possibly lead to World War III, before once again pointing out the similarities on foreign policy between these Republicans and Hillary Clinton.
Rand Paul’s appearance on Hardball on Friday cemented the fact that he is the only Republican willing to take the necessary risks in order to grow the Party and lead it back to victory in 2016. While many others in the field wish to tout the same failed policies over and over again, Paul is bringing his own brand to the forefront of American politics and asking citizens of all ideologies to take a second look. As Paul continues to carefully build his coalition over the next year, he has the chance to take the Republican Party and the general electorate by storm.