Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, couldn’t believe it when he heard that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., adopted the pose of an undecided voter when asked about a hypothetical match-up between Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Wait, you’re joking right?” Lee asked when told, during a press conference Wednesday evening at the Young Americans for Liberty convention, that McCain told the New Republic that “it’s gonna be a tough choice” if Paul and Clinton win their respective party nominations in 2016.
“Well, actually, I think [McCain] was laughing when he said it,” Paul interjected correctly. “What I will say is, this was the New Republic so I’m pretty that when he was doing it, he had his fingers crossed so you have to take it with a grain of salt,” he cracked, in an allusion to the recent New Republic cover story that ran alongside a photo of Rand Paul with his fingers crossed under the headline, “The real Rand Paul (can’t be trusted).”
Paul rejected the “isolationist” tag that McCain applied to him, noting that he supported the invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
He also took aim at McCain’s foreign policy views. “There are two polar extremes to foreign policy: One is that we’re nowhere, any of the time, and one that we’re everywhere, all the time,” Paul told reporters. “There are people within our caucus, we won’t name any names, who are very close to the ‘everywhere all the time” [position].”
Lee then addressed McCain’s comment about 2016 a little more pointedly than his colleague. “This is the first I’ve heard of this article or this interview, but I have given a lot of thought to this issue and I want to make very clear: if I am faced with a ballot or a presidential contest in 2016 which features two names — Hillary Clinton or Rand Paul — I will not be voting for Secretary Clinton,” he said, as reporters laughed. “I don’t hesitate with that.”
As they exited the briefing room, Paul turned to Lee with a smile. “I’m glad that you’re not wavering there, Mike,” he said.