The libertarian advocacy group that grew out of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign slammed Sen. Marco Rubio Wednesday after the Florida Republican voted against a bill to freeze aid to Egypt that had been introduced by Paul’s son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
The younger Paul’s bill, which would have halted $1.5 billion in annual aid given to Egypt, failed Wednesday by a lopsided of 86-13 vote. The Ron Paul-inspired group, Campaign for Liberty, released a statement to its national press list after the vote, singling out Rubio and calling his decision “disgraceful.”
“Senator Rubio today stood with President Obama and Harry Reid to vote against the rule of law and the American people,” Campaign for Liberty spokeswoman Megan Stiles said in the written statement. “I fully expected (Arizona Republican) Senator McCain and (South Carolina Republican) Senator Graham to vote with Reid and Obama, as they often do, but for Senator Rubio, who bills himself as a conservative, to do so is disgraceful. Campaign for Liberty will be sure to remind the citizens of Florida that Senator Rubio stood with Obama to send their money to Egypt.”
The decision by a group associated with the Paul family to target Rubio — one of 33 Republicans who opposed the bill — is noteworthy, given that both lawmakers are rising stars in the party and are considering a presidential run in 2016. Why go after Rubio and not Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, widely viewed as a potential 2016 contender as well?
The direct rebuke of Rubio from a Paul-backed group is likely to foreshadow future battles ahead, should the two tea party favorites choose to compete for the party nomination.
Given his record and rhetoric on foreign policy issues, Rubio’s decision to reject Paul’s bill was probably to be expected. Since Rubio joined the Senate in 2010, he has associated himself with Graham and McCain, two lawmakers known for hawkish views on foreign affairs. Paul, like his father before him, is known for representing an noninterventionist wing of the party.
When contacted by Yahoo News, Stiles said the group targeted Rubio because members were “surprised” by his vote. (She added that they also plan to send similar releases about Graham and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker to state-based reporters, but Rubio was the only release sent to a national media list.)
“We were most surprised by his vote,” Stiles told Yahoo News. “He bills himself as voting against the GOP establishment.”
Rand Paul, who is not officially part of Campaign for Liberty, is scheduled to speak at a forum co-sponsored by the group near Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night.