McCain: Rand Paul 'just doesn't understand' foreign policy

McCain: Rand Paul 'just doesn't understand' foreign policy
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Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.) is lashing back at Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default Cotton swipes at Fauci: 'These bureaucrats think that they are the science' Paul, Cruz fire back after Fauci says criticism of him is 'dangerous' MORE (R-Ky.) after the 2016 presidential candidate criticized GOP defense hawks.

“He just doesn't understand. He has displayed this kind of naïveté since he came to the Senate,” McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, said during an interview with Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” on Monday.

Paul suggested GOP hawks were no different from President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a 2016 Democratic presidential contender, on foreign policy in remarks Saturday at New Hampshire’s Republican Leadership Summit.


"The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over,” Paul said.

"There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," he added.

McCain called out Paul on Monday for previously advocating cuts to Pentagon spending and foreign aid, including to Israel.

“He’s sort of changing now as he’s seen [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] succeed. … He's more aligned with Barack Obama's national security policy than certainly any Republican than I know,” McCain said.

There is no love lost between Paul, a libertarian who has argued for a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, and those in the Republican Party who want a more robust, muscular foreign policy.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), whom McCain jokingly calls his “illegitimate son,” has vowed to make national security the centerpiece of his campaign if he runs for president. Graham also trashed Paul’s policies on Monday.

“He said that we shouldn't have any troops in Iraq. He agreed with Obama. That was a disaster. When there was a chance to do something constructive about Syria with a no-fly zone, he said we don't need one. Generally speaking, he's been more wrong than right,” Graham said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” 

“He has an isolationist view of the world that I don't share,” Graham added, repeating his critique that Paul is “is one step behind leading from behind.”