Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul may not deliver a standout performance in the third Republican primary debate, but he hopes to stand out for something.
According to CNBC, the host of the Oct. 28 debate in Boulder, Colo., the remaining GOP candidates can expect to be grilled on a handful of economic issues including jobs, taxes, spending and the federal deficit.
The economy-themed debate will be the perfect opportunity, Paul says, for him to convince voters he's the only fiscal conservative in the Republican field.
"It's supposed to be about economics and domestic policy, but domestic policy is spending, spending is borrowing, and I just don't think you are fiscally conservative if you are for liberal spending with the military," Paul told the Washington Examiner Tuesday.
Thus, the Kentucky senator says his goal during the upcoming debate is to ensure "everybody in America knows you cannot be conservative if you are liberal with your ideas toward military spending."
"The main thing I'd like to present in the next debate is that I'm the only fiscal conservative in the race because I'm fiscally conservative on military spending and fiscally conservative on domestic spending," Paul said.
He added, "The problem in Washington has been the reverse compromise that those who are liberal with regards to military spending get together with those who are liberal on domestic spending and they bust all the budget caps."
Painting himself as the champion of a leaner defense budget could, however, spell trouble for Paul. Should Paul attack his more hawkish rivals for backing military spending hikes, the libertarian-leaning senator could be forced to explain an amendment he introduced in March that proposed expanding the Pentagon's budget by $76.5 billion in fiscal year 2016.
At the time, Doug Stafford, Paul's former chief of staff in the Senate who now leads the senator's PAC, said the amendment differed from other budget proposals because it included five specific budget cuts to offset the defense spending hike.
Ahead of the last debate, Paul pledged to launch "double-barrel" attacks against Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Though he declined to say whether voters will see that strategy reappear this time around, Paul noted that he thought it worked to his advantage.
"I think it went really well in the second debate because it got loose cannon Donald all juiced up and he decided to attack me," he said.