Criticism from within his own party will be no deterrent in Sen. Rand Paul’s advertising campaign against Democrats over foreign aid spending.
In a brief interview today, the Kentucky Republican said his political action committee, RANDPAC, will announce plans Wednesday to hit the airwaves in Ohio against Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Paul said he will not have a specific “litmus test” in deciding which lawmakers to oppose, but they will be in races where the Republican challenger has expressed support for curbing foreign aid, as is the case with GOP nominee Josh Mandel in the Buckeye State.
Brown and 80 other Senators opposed Paul’s bid last month to halt aid to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt until the countries agree to a series of conditions. Paul wants to secure the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi from Pakistani custody. Afridi aided in the U.S. military operation that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden. Paul said the vast majority of the public supports efforts to free the doctor.
Among those critical of Paul’s position is Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who spoke on a campaign conference call on behalf of Sen. Joe Manchin to defend the West Virginia Democrat’s vote against Paul’s proposal. Manchin is among those targeted by RANDPAC.
“Politically popular votes are sometimes not the right votes for the country,” Graham said.
Paul said supporting foreign aid with no strings attached is a bad deal for the country.
“They get too hysterical that anybody would place restrictions on foreign aid,” Paul said, even in cases where the recipients of the assistance are not acting in concert with U.S. interests. He also questioned Graham’s defense of a Democrat.
“What’s more important to him?” Paul asked, saying he would not undermine efforts to increase the number of Republicans in the Senate, even when he disagreed with them on policy.
Manchin said he sought counsel from Graham and others on the foreign aid vote.
Graham, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, said he shared details of existing assistance restrictions with the West Virginia Democrat.
“It was flawed in how it was drafted, and the consequences would have been dire,” Manchin said of the Paul proposal, though he said he might be open to other efforts to help free the doctor in Pakistan.
Several conservative Republicans said at the time of the vote that Democrats denied Paul an opportunity to modify his language to address their concerns.