Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who is mulling a run for president, stopped off at his party’s state convention Saturday and delivered a sweeping lunch banquet speech that combined some of his greatest hits from his four years in Washington.
Paul pirouetted from the partial government shutdown, to the president’s use of executive power, to national security, to federal waste, and then to the 2012 attacks on Benghazi, Libya. He heaped much of the blame on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
He said at least one official under former President Bill Clinton lost their post following the 1993 rebel shootings that killed 18 U.S. troops and downed three American helicopters in Mogadishu.
“I frankly think that if Hillary Clinton had worked for Bill Clinton he’d have fired her, too,” Paul said at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott.
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“And the thing is we are going to have to consider, for better or worse, whether Hillary Clinton can be commander in chief. And what I would say is, that if you can’t defend our embassy, you won’t send the assets there, you preclude yourself from being considered for commander in chief.”
Paul did not address a fresh controversy in which he repeated the false rumor that GOP Sen. John McCain met with the terrorist group Islamic State and posed for a picture. Instead, he outlined his desires to reduce mandatory minimum prison sentences, expand voting rights and grow the party to better reflect the rest of the country.
Paul, a frequent visitor to California of late, pointed to the warm reception he received this year from an audience at reliably liberal UC Berkeley.
He said: “When we look like the rest of America, white, black, brown, we are going to win again.”