It’s Rand Paul against everyone else in the Republican presidential field on the government’s controversial phone records dragnet.
The Kentucky senator and presidential candidate’s role in blocking a measure that extends some of the Patriot Act’s provisions, citing civil liberties concerns, has set up a showdown in a rare Sunday evening Senate session — and turned Paul into a punching bag for other GOP candidates and potential Republican hopefuls who are seeking to show strength on foreign policy.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that ending the program Paul has targeted would put the nation’s security in danger.
“There’s not evidence, not a shred of evidence, that the meta-data program has violated anybody’s civil liberties,” said Bush, who plans to make an announcement soon about whether he will run.
“The first duty of our national government is to protect the homeland, along with many others, and the Patriot Act ought to be reauthorized as-is,” he added.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki took the most direct shot at Paul, saying he is “simply putting Americans at risk for a political reason. I think it’s wrong and I think it’s unfortunate.”
“It’s just, to me, totally wrong that a filibuster would be used to create this void in our security at a time when we are at risk,” said Pataki, who announced he is seeking the GOP nomination last week.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is considering running, said on ABC’s “This Week” that Paul likely won’t be the party’s presidential nominee.
Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, said on ABC’s “This Week” that he doesn’t support Paul — though he did express some reservations about the NSA’s phone data program.
“We really have to protect the Constitution, the Fourth Amendment, and there are aspects of the Patriot Act, such as the massive meta-data collection, which I think probably are not necessary,” said Carson, a declared candidate.
Among the Republicans who have agreed with Paul’s opposition to that program is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another 2016 contender.
But others have taken shots at Paul in recent days, as well.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is considering a campaign for the White House, hit Paul last week as he slammed what he called “misguided ideologues who have no real world experience in fighting terrorism.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has announced he is running in 2016, has also defended the National Security Agency’s role in collecting phone records.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told Fox News last week that he disagrees with Paul.
“We need to have a responsible way that is legal and constitutional, but a way that we can make sure that if someone is an enemy combatant, or aligned with an enemy combatant, the United States and the people of this great country, we’ve got to have the tools we need to prevent another act from happening,” said Walker, who has yet to announce his candidacy.