“Is Hillary Clinton fit to be commander-in-chief?” Rand Paul asked the 3,000 people packed in a hotel ballroom at Americans for Prosperity’s annual Defending the Dream summit on Friday. They answered in unison: “No!”
With the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, the Kentucky senator isn’t exactly subtle about whom he has in his crosshairs. But then again, subtlety has never been his trademark.
Paul blasted the Obama administration, which he said has played host to an “Old MacDonald’s farm” of scandals, making reference to the children’s song, but homed in on one scandal in particular: Benghazi. It’s clear he believes it’ll be a major vulnerability if she runs for president in 2016 — or, at the very least, he is going to do his best to make it one.
Paul compared Clinton’s failure to secure the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, where American ambassador Chris Stevens and three others died in September 2012, to those of former secretary of defense Les Aspin, who resigned in disgrace after admittedly mishandling requests for military support that led to the deaths of 18 Americans in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993.
“I think if Hillary Clinton had worked for Bill Clinton she’d have probably been fired,” Paul said.
The Kentucky senator has made no secret that he is mulling a presidential bid, and his pitch to Republican heavyweights is that he represents a new kind of Republican who can appeal to constituencies, from African Americans to young people, on which Democrats have long had a lock.
He is clearly making progress. Americans for Prosperity board member Frayda Levin, who introduced Paul, called herself a “‘Stand for Rand’ gal,” referred to the senator as “my man,” and said that associating with Paul “makes me seem cool.”
That is precisely the response Paul hopes to elicit from Republicans writ large. Whether he can pull it off remains to be seen, but it’s probably a good sign that, when the music began to play, Oscars-style, as a sign for Paul to exit stage left, the crowd booed.