Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, who has advocated for a more restrained U.S. drone policy, on Monday defended the Obama administration for a strike that accidentally killed two hostages in Pakistan.
"I tend to not want to blame the president for the loss of life here. I think he was trying to do the right thing," Paul said on Fox News.
One of Paul’s most memorable moments as a Kentucky senator took place in 2013 when he delivered a 13-hour filibuster demanding the Obama administration clarify its position on drone use within the U.S. The speech made him a champion for a mix of both libertarians and liberals who are opposed to the U.S. military’s increased reliance on drones under President Obama. Paul’s presidential campaign website even sells “Don’t Drone Me, Bro!” shirts.
“I’ve been an opponent of using drones about people not in combat. However if you are holding hostages, you kind of are involved in combat. So I look at it the way it is in the United States,” Paul said. “If there's a kidnapping in New York, the police don't have to have a warrant to go in.”
Obama last week apologized for authorizing a strike against al Qaeda targets in Pakistan that killed two hostages, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto.
Paul’s comments come as he continues to combat some in the GOP who say his non-interventionist foreign policy leanings would weaken the U.S. military. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., who is considering a presidential run, has been Paul’s chief critic, saying his colleague’s foreign policy views are “more wrong than he’s right.”
Graham took to Twitter on Monday to jab at Paul’s “new position” on drones.