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.”