WASHINGTON — Calling Hillary Rodham Clinton "a war hawk," Sen. Rand Paul says that if the former secretary of state seeks the presidency, some voters will worry that she will get the U.S. involved in another Mideast war.
Paul is a leading anti-interventionist in the GOP and is considering running for president. Last year he opposed President Barack Obama's call for military action in Syria.
In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Paul predicted a "transformational election" if the Democrats nominate "a war hawk like Hillary Clinton."
"I think that's what scares the Democrats the most, is that in a general election, were I to run, there's gonna be a lot of independents and even some Democrats who say, 'You know what? We are tired of war,'" Paul said. "We're worried that Hillary Clinton will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war, because she's so gung-ho."
Michael Czin, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said on Sunday in a statement that Democrats are eager to debate Paul about "his fringe, isolationist vision" that Czin says would end all aid to foreign allies, including Israel.
"That's the vision he's laid out and defended time and time again and that even conservatives have said would bring 'terrible misery' to millions of people across the globe," Czin said Sunday in a statement.
As a senator in 2002, Clinton voted in favor of giving President George W. Bush the broad authority to invade Iraq. She has said over the years that she regrets that vote, and in her new book "Hard Choices" wrote that "I wasn't alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple."
On the events that unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Paul said he found the war-like images disturbing.
"When I see things like that, and I see, like, a warzone, and I see bazookas and tanks and all of this stuff in American city, it offends me, because many of these people, some are rioting, and they need to be arrested," he said. "If you're committing a crime, arrest people. But if you're standing up, and you wanna voice dissent, you know, it is really what America is about, is being able to dissent."
Paul also suggested that race might not be a factor in the events in Ferguson and linked the unrest to the war on drugs.
"Let's say you're African-American and you live there, let's say none of this has to do with race. It might not, but the belief — if you're African-American and you live in Ferguson, the belief is, you see people in prison and they're mostly black and brown, that somehow it is racial, even if the thoughts that were going on at that time had nothing to do with race.
"So it's a very good chance that had this had nothing to do with race, but because of all of the arrest and the way people were arrested, that everybody perceives it as, 'My goodness, the police are out to get us,' you know? And so that's why you have to change the whole war on drugs. It's not just this one instance."