Rand Paul: Clinton partially responsible for refugee crisis

Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton bears responsibili... 04:00

Republican presidential candidate and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that Hillary Clinton "bears some of the responsibility" for the humanitarian crisis that has spurred hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee their country.

He said that Clinton's "policy of putting arms into that situation" - a reference to the fact that she was an early advocate of arming moderate Syrians to fight dictator Bashar al-Assad - helped throw gasoline on the flames in the country.

"Assad is a person who gassed his own people, but on the other side you have really the remnants of the people who attacked us or people with a similar ideology to al Qaeda who attacked us. So really arming either of the sides was a mistake," Paul said.

He also said that the remaining Christians in Syria prefer Assad's leadership to that of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which holds vast swaths of territory. The U.S. "shouldn't do anything to push back Assad or to bomb Assad or to defeat Assad because really what that does is it opens a space for ISIS," he said.

In a separate interview on "Face the Nation" Sunday Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of state, said the U.S. should accept 65,000 Syrian refugees to help alleviate the crisis as hundreds of thousands of migrants seek refuge in Europe and other places.

Rand Paul: Civilized Islam must step up in fi... 01:10

Paul said the U.S. must "be wary of some of the threat that comes from mass migration" and said that other countries who have contributed to the unstable situation in Syria should be doing more.

"Saudi Arabia doesn't appear to be willing to take any. Iran should be taking some. So if they're Shiite Muslims and Saudi Arabia won't take them, why would not Iran want to accept them? And these are the people who have been stoking the flames over there. Bahrain, Qatar, all the people pouring arms into there, all these rich sheikdoms, why aren't they taking refugees?" he said.

He also referenced the refugees that came to Iraq after the war there, and said that the U.S. should have left "the people who were pro-West" in Iraq to help rebuild the country.

"In this situation, there's not really a choice," he conceded. "Those 65,000 people or the hundreds of thousands of people are stranded. But at the same time, I think we have to go to first causes as to what caused it in the first place."

Paul also weighed in on some of the recent controversies generated by his fellow GOP candidates discussing religion.

Businessman Donald Trump declined to say anything when a person asking him questions at a town hall said President Obama was a Muslim and not American.

"We shouldn't question the president's faith and I think that's kind of crazy. And if someone does, we should, I think, rebuke that," he said.

And neurosurgeon Ben Carson said on "Meet the Press" Sunday that he "would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation."

"I think, it's not so much what religion you are, it's what you stand for. But I don't think that we're really anywhere near that probably that happening because they're a small minority in our population," he said.

But he also suggested he understood the thinking behind what Carson said.

"The problem we have is that people have been attacking us have been all of one religion and it's hard to separate that," he said. "Civilized Islam needs to step up in a bigger way and say this doesn't represent us. I know they do. But I don't hear enough of it. I need to hear more of it."

Paul also weighed in on the looming fight in Congress over funding the government. Many Republicans want defund Planned Parenthood when they allocate money to keep the government open, but President Obama has threatened to veto any spending bill that doesn't fund the group.

Rand Paul: We should need 60 votes to fund Pl... 02:26

"I think we're missing sort of the bigger picture on everything. Not just Planned Parenthood. We borrow a million dollars a minute. So if you do a continuing resolution, you're acknowledging that the government's broken but you're going to vote to continue spending money at a rate that is unsustainable. So it's not just Planned Parenthood. It's everything," he said.

He called on the GOP to "flip the tables" and demand 60 votes in the Senate for not just Planned Parenthood funding, but everything in the government.

"Let's put hundreds if not thousands of restrictions on all the spending," he said. "If I were in charge of Congress, I would put forward spending and I would say, this is what it is. And if Democrats don't vote for it, then Democrats would be shutting down government."

He said he will not vote for any short-term spending bill to keep the government open because "it's not the way we should do business." He said he hopes the government doesn't stay open "without reform."

Rand Paul: I am still a political outsider 01:09

Paul believes that all of his colleagues in the House and Senate should have term limits in order to help break up the status quo.

"I would throw everybody out, myself included. I'm serious. I think we need to start afresh periodically and I think 12 years is more than enough time in the Senate, 12 years is more than enough time in the House and I would think you would get more turnover," he said. "The people, the public are about a decade ahead of government, but you need more turnover in government and right now people are upset and unhappy and rightly so and I'm one of them."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.