As Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., officially became the second Republican to formally announce his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election on Tuesday, the 52-year-old obstetrician is already being attacked by conservatives as being "to the left of Obama" when it comes to his foreign policy and openness to negotiating with Iran.
Although Paul was victorious in the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll in February, some prominent conservatives and even a conservative political action group have wasted no time in jumping on the presidential candidate over his stance on foreign policy issues.
Fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. expressed his concern with Paul's candidacy the day before Paul officially announced that he was going to run.
Graham proclaimed in an interview with Fox News on Monday, that Paul is in fact "to the left" of Obama's foreign policy.
"As to Rand Paul, I like Rand a lot but at the end of the day, his foreign policy is to the the left of Barack Obama," Graham asserted.
Graham further explained that Paul voted against a resolution that he proposed two years ago that would have prohibited the U.S. from allowing Iran to gain nuclear capability.
"All I was saying basically is that if Rand Paul is the nominee of the party, I will support [him] but Rand Paul was the one senator that voted against my resolution two years ago, saying that we will not allow Iran to get a nuclear capability and contain them," Graham stated. "I think it would be a lousy idea to give them a nuclear weapon and hope that you could contain them. Ninety senators agreed with me and the one senator who opposed this resolution was Rand Paul."
Graham further explained that it would be a mistake to replace Obama with another president who finds it acceptable to negotiate nuclear capabilities with Iran.
"I don't think the best way to negotiate with the Iranians is have the one senator who would be OK with a nuclear Iran to go in to take Obama's place," Graham said. "I think Rand Paul would be to the left of Obama on this issue. But if he is our nominee, I will support it."
Although Paul only announced his candidacy on Tuesday, television attack ads sponsored by the conservative organization Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America will air Wednesday through Sunday on TV stations in key early primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, Politifact reported.
"The Senate is considering tough new sanctions on Iran. President Obama says he will veto them and Rand Paul is standing with him. Rand Paul supports Obama's negotiations with Iran but he doesn't understand the threat," the ad's narrator claims. "Rand Paul is wrong and dangerous. Tell him to stop siding with Obama because even one Iranian bomb would be a disaster."
Although Graham and the advertisement portray Paul as standing with Obama on the nuclear deal, the Politifact report stated that it is unfair to equate Paul's stance on the Iran negotiations as the same as Obama's.
"We wanted to know if Paul really does support the ongoing negotiations. We found that, in short, while Paul supports the idea of negotiating with Iran — as opposed to say, military action — it's misleading to equate his position to Obama's," the article states.
In a March 11 interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Paul said he approves of negotiating with Iran but said Congress should be able to review and approve the deal, which could force a tougher agreement with Iran than Obama has planned.
"In doing so, maybe the president will negotiate a more appropriate deal where we actually get Iran to give up their nuclear ambitions," Paul said.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer was also critical of Paul's stance on foreign policy when speaking on Special Report with Bret Baier on Wednesday.
Krauthammer chastised Paul and said that he is to the left of Obama on other foreign policy issues. He added that even though Paul's "isolationist" stance was not a problem when he first broke into the Senate, now that he is running for president, it will become a major issue.
"At the beginning it looked OK. You know, who want's to spend blood and treasure abroad. It makes sense. Who wants to give foreign aid, which were the Rand Paul positions. They were all not a liability," Krauthammer asserted. "It was a fresh approach among young Republicans but now because the Obama foreign policy has collapsed and whatever name you want to put on Paul's position — isolationist or non-interventionist — he is without a doubt the one Republican who will be running who is the closest to Obama and his view of foreign policy. Arguably he is to the left of Obama on NSA, on surveillance, on use of drones, essentially on the war on terror."
During the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, Paul argued that the number one priority of the federal government is to defend the country, however he warned against the idea of "nation building."
"When I look at government, I think the very most important thing we do on a federal level is defend our country. Without question defense is a constitutional function and is the most important function we have," Paul stated in his CPAC speech in late February. "Without question, we must be strong. Without question we must defend ourselves. I imagine America with a national defense unparalleled, undefeatable and unencumbered by nation building."