Rand Paul: Obama weakening presidency

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election How low is the bar for presidential candidates, anyway? MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said President Obama has weakened the presidency by not including Congress in the debate over military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. 

Paul said that if he were president, he would have called back members for a joint session of Congress during the August recess to outline his case for war. 

"We should have a big debate in Congress and with the American people," he said on Fox News. "And he's not going to do it. But therefore, he actually weakens the presidency, weakens America and weakens everything we stand for if he's not willing to obey the Constitution." 

Paul, who critics have sometimes branded an isolationist, said intervention is not always the answer to foreign conflicts. But he said ISIS has declared war against the United States with the beheading of two U.S. journalists. 

The senator said the president should have gone to Congress and the public to explain: "This is something we can't take. We're not going to let our enemies behead our journalists. We're not going to let them become strong enough to attack our embassy."

In a Time magazine op-ed published Thursday, Paul expressed support for U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria as part of a larger strategy. 

The Pentagon has launched more than 100 airstrikes targeting the militant group in Iraq to protect U.S. personnel and Iraqi minorities. Many in Congress believe the president has the authority to act alone in Iraq, but some have urged him to get authorization from Congress if he intends to target the group in Syria. 

Obama, for his part, has promised to keep in close consultation with congressional leaders, as he moves forward with the campaign against ISIS.

Paul said the administration's military action in Libya in 2011 — which was also taken without approval from Congress — made the United States less safe. He also asserted the administration's limited support of some rebels in Syria emboldened ISIS, though many Republicans continue to call for the United States to bolster its support for moderate rebels there. 

"I don't say we're responsible. I don't say America's responsible. I say President Obama's responsible," Paul said.