About four years ago, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) faced booing during debates for the Republican presidential candidates when he said American foreign policy led to the 9/11 attacks. The response -- from the audience and the other candidates -- made clear that the party has no use for such an argument.
Four years later, it's Ron Paul's son who's now running for president -- and he's said largely the same thing.
Rand Paul said in 2007 interview that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East was at the core of the reasons for terrorism and that the 9/11 Commission showed that the September 11th attacks were made in response to U.S. presence in foreign lands. [...] In the interview, Paul went on to take aim at then-President George W. Bush, calling him "ridiculous" for saying "they hate us for our freedom." Paul said Americans should try to understand "why they hate us" and what policies create terrorism.
As the BuzzFeed report noted, Rand Paul said in the 2007 interview, "I mean, you have to recognize what policy creates terrorism. Because you can't kill every Muslim in the world. There's a billion Muslims. We have to learn to live together to a certain point."
Is it any wonder the Kentucky Republican is eager to declare his pre-Senate remarks as irrelevant?
This area will only become more problematic for Rand Paul in the coming months. For one thing, he was quite active as a public voice for his father's agenda and fringe worldview, delivering all kinds of speeches in which he made very controversial remarks. This BuzzFeed report is damaging in the context of the 2016 race, but similar reports will surface -- many times -- throughout the year.
For another, if Rand Paul is positioned to credibly compete for the GOP nomination, he'll face the one thing his father never had to worry about: attack ads from Republican rivals. And in light of what he's given for the ad-makers to work with, those commercials are likely to be pretty brutal.
Finally, as we talked about the other day, if the senator thinks he can dismiss the relevance of this record, he's likely to be disappointed. Rand Paul has suggested quotes from 2007 to 2009 are out of bounds, as if there's a statute of limitations that has run out.
But we're not just talking about youthful indiscretions that seem irrelevant decades later -- "Aqua Buddha," this isn't -- we're talking about public remarks Paul made as a surrogate for a presidential candidate.
Whether Rand Paul likes it or not, presidential candidates don't have the luxury of declaring much of their adult lives off-limits to scrutiny. So long as he's being quoted accurately, his public remarks on major issues of the day matter and deserve consideration as he seeks the nation's highest office.