Rand Paul hits Obama over 'underwhelming' anti-ISIS efforts

Story highlights

  • Rand Paul called U.S. anti-ISIS air strikes unconstitutional
  • Paul said he largely supports President Barack Obama's criminal justice efforts

Washington (CNN)Sen. Rand Paul accused President Barack Obama's administration on Tuesday of using "underwhelming force" against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the Kentucky Republican presidential contender called U.S. air strikes against ISIS fighters unconstitutional because Congress has not declared war.
He also took a shot at Obama for targeted military missions, saying he doesn't believe "sending 500,000 troops back into there is a good idea, nor is 50."
    "I think if you're going to war, sending 50 people to war at a time is sort of a recipe for being surrounded and somehow having a disaster on their hands," Paul said.
    He said as president, he'd only go to war with approval from Congress -- but if the United States was entering combat, it'd be in large numbers.
    "I would never put underwhelming force if we went to war, and if there was a declaration of war, I would put overwhelming force -- I wouldn't mess around," Paul said.
    The Kentucky senator did, however, support Obama's move to release non-violent offenders convicted largely on drug charges from prison.
    He said U.S. drug laws are unfairly applied, with African-Americans facing tougher penalties. He said in most cases, he supports Obama's move to ban federal agencies from asking job applicants who have faced convictions but served their time about those convictions.
    "I think a guy who smoked pot or sold marijuana when he was 20 years old deserves a second chance," Paul said.