Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who's considering a possible 2016 White House bid, says his views on foreign policy and national security put him squarely in the mainstream of the country and his party.
Defending his political stance Tuesday during what Politico described as a "sometimes-contentious conversation"
with The Wall Street Journal's editorial page editor, Paul told The Journal's CEO Council's
annual meeting that he sees war as a "last resort," and that Congress should be consulted on military actions and should approve defense budgets that don't compromise national security or increase the deficit.
To those who criticize him as an isolationist, he responded, "This is not a small movement, nor is it easy to say people like myself, who believe in less intervention, can be characterized as people who don't believe in a strong national defense."
"That's a caricature. I'd like to fight that, but we'll see what happens," he told The Journal. "I'm right there with most of the country and most of the party."
He told The Journal that his recent request for a declaration of war against the Islamic State (ISIS) was meant "to shake [Congress] up a bit and say, 'Hey guys , this is our responsibility.'"
Paul in recent years has reached out to hawkish donors and policy leaders and given speeches designed to cast his foreign policy in the tradition of former President Ronald Reagan's "peace through strength" philosophy,
But Paul refused to be pinned down on how much should be devoted to military spending, and The Journal noted that during his first year in the Senate, he proposed cutting military spending by 10 percent.
Now he supports hiking the defense budget over the spending limits set in the 2013 deal reached by Congress and the White House to avert a government shutdown.
"I'll spend more money, as much as I can get out of Congress, if I were president," he told The Journal. "However, I won't do it and run up another $10 trillion in the deficit. So, it has to be done by cutting other parts of government."
"There are people on our side, and I think they're absolutely wrong, there are conservatives [who say] 'I'll spend anything, I don't care if it bankrupts the world,'" he added, Politico reports. "[T]hat's wrong, because you'll be a weaker country, you'll be more vulnerable. I truly believe the No. 1 threat to national security is our debt."
Paul also asserted he doesn't support increasing sanctions on Iran as diplomatic efforts continue in an effort to curtail the Iranians' nuclear weapons program.
"I think it would be a mistake to push them away from the table," Paul told The Journal.
According to Politico, Paul noted a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg
poll showing 45 percent of voters in Iowa back the hawkish Arizona Sen. John McCain's approach to foreign policy, while 41 percent are in line with Paul.
"We've been everywhere, all the time, we're about to bankrupt our country, there's great danger in what we've been doing," he said, Politico reports. "So, I want less. McCain wants more. He wants 15 countries more, 15 wars more."
Paul announced Tuesday that he's seeking re-election to the Senate
, while a spokesman said a decision on a presidential run isn't expected before spring.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.