Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | MidPoint | Rand Paul | John Fund | Rand Paul | military | ISIS

John Fund: Rand Paul Answered His Doubters on Military Defense

By    |   Tuesday, 07 April 2015 04:23 PM

Sen. Rand Paul, candidate for president, made a good case on Tuesday with his 2016 campaign launch for an American military that protects the country without getting bogged down overseas, says National Review Online columnist and Newsmax contributor John Fund.

"Rand Paul knew that he was going to be hit very much from other candidates based on his reluctance to intervene abroad," Fund told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Tuesday.

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Indeed, Paul's kickoff coincided with a television spot attacking him as "dangerous"  on national security. The ad buy is the handiwork of Rick Reed, known for the "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" campaign against 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, The New York Times reports.

The Kentucky Republican used his announcement speech in Louisville on Tuesday to call for a robust U.S. military to deal with threats such as the Islamic State (ISIS), but he set limits on American interventionism consistent with his libertarian-influenced wariness of government overreach.

Paul said that as president he will do "whatever it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind," referring to ISIS, but would pursue a military policy "unencumbered by overseas nation-building," a reference to the years-long post-invasion U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"That's the best possible formulation he could make," said Fund, co-author of "Obama's Enforcer: Eric Holder's Justice Department," and a senior editor at The American Spectator.

"He's not arguing against American intervention; he's arguing against the kind of nation-building that we saw in Iraq and in Afghanistan," said Fund. "Obviously, his opponents will say, 'What are you exactly going to do against ISIS? What are you exactly going to do against the terrorists?' But this is a very good packaging of his message."

Fund was joined on air by Mark Hemingway, senior writer at The Weekly Standard, who said Paul also did a better job announcing himself than did Sen. Ted Cruz, who declared for the presidency in March.

"This was much better stage-managed," said Hemingway. "It was a much better political theater. The fact that he was introduced by a number of women and minorities — he's really pushing this message of expanding Republican base, which, even if you're not a Rand Paul supporter among Republicans, you have to look favorably upon what he's trying to do in that respect."

But Paul faces skepticism from within. Shortly before his announcement, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips told "MidPoint" that Paul's candidacy for 2016 is a case of right-place-wrong-time.

"Rand Paul is really a cycle too late," said Phillips. "Had he run in 2012 — had he run instead of his dad [Ron Paul] — I'm not so sure we wouldn't be looking at President Paul looking at re-election today, because the isolationism strain in the Republican Party hit its high water mark around 2012.

"But since then, we've seen Islamic terror, we've seen ISIS beheading Americans, burning people alive and doing just all kinds of horrible things," said Phillips.

"And a lot of the sentiment among conservatives, among middle-of-the-road people, and even some folks on the left is, we're probably going to have to go back into Iraq at some point," he said. "We're going to have to have a much stronger military than the hollow military that Obama is leaving us with, and I'm sorry, this is not going to fit a Rand Paul presidency. He's not a hawk and he's not really a social conservative."

Also appearing on "MidPoint," Republican strategist Kurt Bardella said that Paul's task is to hold together the libertarian coalition assembled by his father, a two-time Republican presidential candidate, "and try to harness that into a broader movement."

"That's a tightrope," said Phillips, because many conservatives look askance at libertarians. "I'm not sure how he walks that because he's branded as a Paul. To a certain extent, he does need to shake his father's image. But to a certain extent, he needs to hold on to that libertarian base and I'm not sure how you'll accomplish both."

Fund said Paul is trying to bridge the divide by articulating a "libertarian Republicanism."

"He's trying to distinguish himself from the pure 100-percent-proof product of his father, and obviously there are people who don't want that mixture," said Fund. "On the other hand, there are a lot of people who look at the past 12 years and they say, 'What has the establishment Republican leadership in Washington done for us?' And he has a good niche in the party.

"Clearly, he's a big underdog to get the nomination," said Fund, "but we've seen over and over again, starting with Barry Goldwater, how presidential candidates who didn't go all the way to the White House nonetheless shaped and changed their party and moved to the direction that they wanted. Paul obviously wants to be president and he also wants to influence his party, short of that."

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Sen. Rand Paul, candidate for president, made a good case on Tuesday with his 2016 campaign launch for an American military that protects the country without getting bogged down overseas, says National Review Online columnist and Newsmax contributor John Fund.
John Fund, Rand Paul, military, ISIS
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 04:23 PM
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