04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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Saying she felt "patronized" by Senate colleague Ted Cruz, Sen. Dianne Feinstein explained Thursday why she felt the need to raise her voice in anger at the Texas Republican during a debate over gun control.

"I felt he was somewhat arrogant about it," Feinstein said of Cruz's suggestion the Senate Judiciary Committee was ignoring the Constitution during its debate over banning semiautomatic firearms.

She spoke on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

"When you come from where I've come from ... when you found a dead body and put your finger in bullet holes, you really realize the impact of weapons," she continued, referring to the 1978 assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, whose bodies she discovered at City Hall.






"When you see these weapons becoming attractive to grievance killers, people who take them into schools, into theaters, into malls -- you wonder, does America really need these weapons? My answer to that is no. And so it's based on my experience," she continued.

The furious exchange with Cruz came before the judiciary panel passed the assault weapons ban Feinstein introduced on a party line vote. After Cruz implored the committee not to forget the Constitution in its debate, Feinstein angrily replied, "I'm not a sixth grader."

"I've studied the Constitution myself. I am reasonably well-educated and I thank you for the lecture," she continued, noting that the assault weapons ban backed by President Barack Obama but opposed by the powerful gun lobby exempted certain weapons.

"Isn't that enough for the people in the United States? Do they need a bazooka? Do they need other high-powered weapons that military people use to kill in close combat? I don't think so," she said.

She concluded by telling Cruz that "I come from a different place than you do. I respect your views. I ask you to respect my views."

Afterward, Feinstein said she needed time to "cool down" before speaking to her Republican colleague.

"I did say, 'Look, I'm sorry. But, you know, this is one thing that I feel very passionately about,'" Feinstein recalled saying.

Now that her assault weapons ban is heading to the full Senate, Feinstein said she expects Obama to begin working with lawmakers to build support.

Despite polls showing that such a prohibition resonates with Americans, most observers don't give the bill much of a chance in the full Senate.

The California Democrat isn't one of them.

"The people do want it," Feinstein said. "So I hope the people make the connection now with their representatives. In the West, in the Midwest, in the South and in the East. And say, 'yes, we agree with the polls. We want this bill.'"

The legislation was prompted by December's school shooting in Connecticut.

 

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