Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) put out an editorial on Tuesday criticizing presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who he had recently endorsed, for his aggressive foreign policy approach towards Iran. This criticism from Paul should assuage many of his supporters who were wary of the Romney endorsement as a compromise of principle.
“I endorsed Governor Romney for many reasons,” writes Sen. Paul, “not the least of which is that we simply cannot afford four more years of President Obama.” This, of course, is a perfectly understandable and politically prudent position to take.
As a candidate, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) was very critical of his opponents, but he struck a softer tone with Romney over the course of his campaign. This was a well-documented strategy taken by Paul, and it makes good sense: if Paul is trying to spread a principled message, then his best bet is to set himself up as the most appealing alternative to the leading candidate. Thus, while he may have lacked the hard numbers to overcome Romney, he was most certainly capable of becoming the “anti-Romney” candidate – a position he had to fight away from Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
What this does is establish a definite credibility for the message and the movement. Rand Paul, the man who many feel is the most sensible “successor” for his father’s message, is now tasked with picking up this credibility and continuing to move forward. By both endorsing Romney and still maintaining a critical distance, Paul has positioned himself as a part of the larger GOP movement while still remaining distinct from the “party line.”
So how has Paul expressed his disapproval of Romney? “I must oppose,” Paul explains, “the most recent statements made by Mitt Romney in which he says he, as president, could take us to war unilaterally with Iran, without any approval from Congress.”
This argument is very much in line with his father’s position – one which argues for a constitutionally-minded check on the presidential power over the declaration and initiation of war.
He continues, “No president is above the law or above the Constitution.”
This is a very strong reproach of Romney’s position on the matter. After all, a president is sworn in with an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution, and thus a charge of flagrant unconstitutionality merits serious attention.
As a candidate, Ron Paul was extremely vocal about the ramifications of a reckless, interventionist foreign policy. He emphasized the importance of negotiation and trade in encouraging peaceful relationships overseas.
While Sen. Paul has not gone so far in promoting this as an alternative to Mitt Romney’s approach, his criticisms should calm worries that he has “sold out” to the GOP party line in his endorsement of the former governor.
In all, we should see this as another strong display of political skill on behalf of the larger “Paul Movement,” as it might be called. The democratic process often calls for slower, more incremental changes in public opinion – something both Paul camps have shown themselves quite adept at effecting.