Rand Paul: Bring on "war hawk" Hillary Clinton in 2016

In this file photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to the media at the Pottawattamie County Republican headquarters Aug. 4, 2014, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Eric Francis, Getty Images

Republicans have traditionally staked out a more muscular platform on national security issues than Democrats, but that script could flip if the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., predicted in a clip released Friday by NBC News.

"If you wanna see a transformational election, let the Democrats put forward a war hawk like Hillary Clinton," Paul said in the interview, which will air in full on Sunday's "Meet the Press." "You'll see a transformation like you've never seen."

Of course, that's only likely to be the case if Paul, who's mulling a bid for president, can defeat his more hawkish GOP rivals for the Republican nomination. Recent public polls have reflected a competitive race, with Paul and several others jockeying for the top spot.

The Kentucky Republican has publicly feuded with many in his party about national security issues, saying the GOP has at times appeared "too eager for war," and that the U.S. should be more judicious in the use of military force.

He's condemned those pushing for greater U.S. involvement in civil wars in Iraq and Syria, and he's warned of the consequences of the extensive use of unmanned drones in the war on terror.

Those positions have earned him some plaudits from libertarians and even some Democrats, but they've also left him open to charges that he's soft on defense.

Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.Y., for example, condemned Paul's brand of non-interventionism last year as a "very dangerous thought," invoking the memory of September 11 to preach a more forceful American approach to global threats.

And Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., another hawkish Northeastern Republican, has said he's entertaining a presidential bid of his own in large part to counteract Paul's influence on the GOP.

Clinton, the likely front-runner for the Democratic nomination if she runs, has built a reputation for being more aggressive on defense issues than some in her party. She supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, though she now says it was a mistake, and she recently criticized President Obama for not moving more quickly to arm moderate rebel groups in Syria, saying the decision created a vacuum that allowed extremists to thrive.

  • Jake Miller

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