Paul: Colleagues hoping for an attack to blame on him
© Francis Rivera

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Overnight Defense: Iran seizes British tanker in latest escalation | US, UK to discuss situation | Trump says 'no doubt' US downed Iranian drone after Tehran's denials | Pentagon's No. 2 policy official to leave | Lawmakers worry about Defense vacancies MORE (R-Ky.) late Sunday suggested that supporters of a National Security Agency phone records surveillance program are hoping for a terrorist attack after the program expires, so they can blame it on the Kentucky Republican.

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"People here in town think I'm making a huge mistake. Some of them, I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States, so they can blame it on me," Paul, who is running for president, said from the Senate floor.

He added that a reporter recently asked him if he would "feel guilty" if there was an attack.

"The people who attack us are responsible for attacks on us," he said. "So the ones who say, when an attack occurs, it's going to be all your fault, are any of them willing to accept the blame? We have bulk collection now, are any of them willing to accept the blame for the Boston bombing?

He told reporters after his speech that he's not opposed to "looking at the records of terrorists."

"In fact, I want to have more people looking at more records of terrorists, just less people looking at innocent Americans’ records," he said.

Paul's comments come after senators voted to move forward on the House-backed USA Freedom Act, which would end the NSA's "metadata" collection and, instead, require private companies to hold the records.

But Paul is opposed to the reform bill, as well as previous attempts by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to extend current Patriot Act provisions used to authorize the NSA’s bulk, warrantless collection of Americans’ phone records.

He's made his opposition to the Patriot Act a central pillar of his presidential campaign, sending out tweets and emails to supporters to try to drum up support.

But he's also denied that his procedural tactics over the past weeks were related to his campaign, telling reporters Sunday night, "The point I wanted to make is that we can still catch terrorists using the Constitution."