SIOUX CENTER, Iowa –- Rep. Ron Paul said on Friday he blames his own rising poll numbers for the heightened criticism that his hands-off foreign policy views have recently received from his rivals.
Asked during a town hall in La Mars, Iowa, why his opponents have begun to hit him on what they call his “dangerous” positions on U.S. international relations, the Texas congressman chuckled.
“I think going up in the polls, all of a sudden they came and felt the necessity to find something,” Paul said. “They couldn’t find any flip-flops, so they had to work on something else.
“But on the foreign policy, they like to, of course, use words that, you know, tries to destroy the whole philosophy,” he continued. “So they say, ‘Oh, he’s nothing but an isolationist, he’s weak on foreign policy.’ Of course, it’s exactly the opposite.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was the latest of Paul’s rivals to blast him on foreign policy. On Friday in Waverly, Iowa, Perry cited Iran as one of the areas in which he and Paul are on a “180-degree course.”
“His remarks about it’s fine for him if the Iranians get a nuclear weapon, I happen to think that that is either the most naïve thing that I’ve ever heard out of somebody that’s been supposedly in the United States Congress and paying attention, or someone that’s so out of sync with the American people that they don’t need to be the president of the United States.”
Prior to the question in La Mars, Paul had already touched on the criticism, saying it “baffles me a whole lot” how anyone could consider his policies “dangerous.” He said earlier this week that economic sanctions by the United States and other countries against Iran amount to “acts of war” that risk touching off another conflict. The proper U.S. policy, he added, “is to do a lot less a lot sooner and mind our own business, and then we would not have this threat of another war.”
In addition to Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., reiterated her sentiment that Paul “would be dangerous for the United States on foreign policy,” citing his hands-off stance on Iran.
It’s not the only thing over which Paul and Bachmann have clashed lately. On Wednesday night, Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson, up until then Bachmann’s state chair, announced his support for Paul. In response, Bachmann has claimed that Paul bought off Sorenson -– something that his campaign and Sorenson deny.
Introducing Paul in a later event on Friday, Sorenson attributed his switch to a “change of events.”
"I believe we have a top-tier race and a bottom-tier race," he said. "I believe the top-tier race is including Congressman Paul and Mitt Romney."
Rebecca Kaplan contributed contributed to this article.