Jindal Rips Paul Over ISIS, Calls Him Unfit for WH
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says Rand Paul is unfit for the presidency after the Kentucky senator blamed Republican “hawks” for the existence and rise of the Islamic State.
“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately [to Syrian rebels], and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS,” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate said on “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning.
Those comments provide a stark contrast to the view of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, another presidential aspirant who argues that the U.S.’s unwillingness to engage anti-Assad militants in Syria emboldened ISIS, and that Paul’s position embodies that same dynamic. (Graham is expected to formally announce his White House bid on Monday.)
Paul’s comments prompted a quick response from Jindal, who said the libertarian lawmaker is taking a “weak” and “illogical” position that is championed by liberal Democrats. According to Jindal, America’s waning influence in the Mideast “emboldens” groups like ISIS.
“This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be commander-in-chief,” the two-term governor said in a statement released by his office. “It's one thing for Senator Paul to take an outlandish position as a Senator at Washington cocktail parties, but being commander-in-chief is an entirely different job.”
Jindal, who announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee last week, also took the opportunity to scold President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for “exacerbating” the rise of ISIS.
Paul similarly jabbed the Democratic frontrunner on “Morning Joe” regarding ISIS – but took a different route than Jindal. Paul said Republican hawks like Graham and Arizona Sen. John McCain “loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya, they just wanted more of it.”
Taking a page from his famously libertarian father’s playbook, he concluded that the hawks in his party have been “wrong” on foreign policy for the past two decades. “Yet they have somehow the gall to keep … pointing fingers otherwise,” he added.
Jindal called his potential rival’s argument an “illogical” one that “clouds a situation that should provide pure moral clarity. … It has become impossible to imagine a President Paul defeating radical Islam and it's time for the rest of us to say it.”
As the 2016 campaign rolls onward, Graham, Jindal and like-minded Republicans are expected to keep piling on their attacks against Paul’s foreign policy positions.
But Jindal and Paul don’t necessarily disagree when it comes to NSA surveillance under the Patriot Act – an area where Graham and Paul have sharp differences. Jindal said last week that he is “very sympathetic” to Paul’s efforts to dismantle the NSA’s bulk data collection of Americans’ phone conversations, but cautioned that there should not be a choice between ending mass surveillance and allowing intelligence agencies to gather information to keep Americans safe.
“Sometimes the smartest course is in the middle and avoiding extremes,” Jindal said in a statement provided to RealClearPolitics. “This is one of those instances. People who argue that the Patriot Act is all bad are being dangerously naïve about the nature of the threats we face here at home. And people who argue that the government should be allowed to spy on American citizens at will are being dangerously naïve about the dangers of such.”
Jindal isn’t the only potential presidential candidate who went after Paul on Wednesday. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on “Fox & Friends” that Paul and Utah Sen. Mike Lee are “dead wrong” on the Patriot Act, and accused them of concurring with “criminal” Edward Snowden in their opposition to NSA bulk data collection.