Rand Paul Rips Hillary Clinton: Not ‘Fit to Lead the Country’

The Republican attacks his potential 2016 opponent over both her wealth and handling of Benghazi.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), speaking to students at Howard University in Washington, DC on April 10, 2013
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Aug. 1, 2014, 5:55 p.m.

MAR­SHALL COUNTY, Ky.—Sen. Rand Paul de­livered an un­usu­ally harsh re­buke of Hil­lary Clin­ton in Ken­tucky on Fri­day night, de­clar­ing that his po­ten­tial 2016 rival is not “fit to lead the coun­try.”

Paul, who is lay­ing the ground­work to run for pres­id­ent in 2016, began his speech by mock­ingly say­ing he was los­ing sleep over Clin­ton’s money woes. Clin­ton, who is far atop the polls among po­ten­tial 2016 Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates, had said dur­ing her re­cent book tour that she and Pres­id­ent Clin­ton left the White House “dead broke.”

Paul fa­cetiously asked the crowd to ob­serve “a mo­ment of si­lence” for her fin­ances.

“Some­body must have been pray­ing for her,” the Re­pub­lic­an said seconds later, “be­cause she’s now worth 100, 200 mil­lion. I tell you it was really tough giv­ing those speeches.”

At least, Paul jabbed, she didn’t have to suf­fer alone: “She had her limo driver with her for the last 17 years to com­mis­er­ate.”

“I hope she can deal with only 100 mil­lion [dol­lars],” he ad­ded. “I cer­tainly wish that maybe she be­comes pre­oc­cu­pied with something else be­cause I don’t think she’s fit to lead the coun­try.”

Paul’s red-meat speech came be­fore sev­er­al hun­dred GOP act­iv­ists gathered in a con­ver­ted in­door ten­nis court in far west­ern Ken­tucky. It could be a warm-up act for Iowa, the state that kicks off the 2016 pres­id­en­tial nom­in­at­ing pro­cess, where Paul is headed next week.

Here in Mar­shall County, the Ken­tucky GOP crowd cheered re­peatedly over their plates of fried cat­fish and baked beans.

Paul at­tacked his po­ten­tial Demo­crat­ic rival at length for her hand­ling of se­cur­ity at the con­su­late in Benghazi, Libya, where the U.S. am­bas­sad­or and three oth­er Amer­ic­ans were killed in 2012. Clin­ton was sec­ret­ary of State at the time.

She treated the con­su­late “as if it were Par­is. Benghazi’s not Par­is. Benghazi is a lot like Bagh­dad,” he said.

Paul lashed out at Clin­ton, a more hawk­ish Demo­crat, even as his liber­tari­an-in­fused in­ter­na­tion­al per­spect­ive has put him at odds with much of the tra­di­tion­al GOP for­eign policy es­tab­lish­ment.

In Benghazi, Paul blamed Clin­ton for ig­nor­ing re­quests for a plane and ad­di­tion­al se­cur­ity, cit­ing all the oth­er things the State De­part­ment had pur­chased dur­ing that time: “$100,000 for an elec­tric­al char­ging sta­tion” in Vi­enna, “$650,000 on Face­book ads,” and “$700,000 on land­scap­ing for the Brus­sels em­bassy” among them.

And Paul said the ex­cuse that her depu­ties handled re­quests from Benghazi was no ex­cuse at all.

“If you don’t read the cables from one of the most dan­ger­ous spots on earth, frankly, you pre­clude your­self from ever be­ing our com­mand­er in chief,” Paul de­clared.

Mi­chael Czin, a spokes­man for the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee, re­spon­ded to Paul’s com­ments, say­ing: “Rand Paul voted to shut down the gov­ern­ment, wants the U.S. to re­treat from our re­spons­ib­il­it­ies around the world, op­poses com­mon­sense le­gis­la­tion like the Vi­ol­ence Against Wo­men Act and equal pay le­gis­la­tion, and thinks em­ploy­ers ought to have the right to dis­crim­in­ate. With that re­cord, he’s got no cred­ib­il­ity on the is­sue of who is fit to lead.”