Rand Paul tells CNN that Republicans aren't split, Brennan is concerning, and McConnell shouldn't worry

02/10/2013 08:07 AM

Separate responses by the tea party and the GOP to the president’s State of the Union Address doesn’t mean the Republican Party is split, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday morning.

Paul will give a response on behalf of the tea party, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will give the official Republican Party’s response. Both senators were elected in 2010 and are being mentioned as potential 2016 presidential candidates.

Paul, speaking with Crowley from his district office in Bowling Green, said the two responses don’t mean that the Republican Party is at odds with itself.

“To me I see it as an extra response. I don’t see it as necessarily divisive,” Paul said. “I won’t say anything on there that necessarily is like, ‘Marco Rubio is wrong.’ He and I don’t always agree. But this isn’t about he and I. This is about the tea party, which is a grassroots movement, a real movement with millions of America who are still concerned with some of the deal making in Washington. They’re still concerned about the fact that we’re borrowing $50,000 a second. None of the things I ran on as part of the tea party have been fixed.”

He said he represents “a wing of the Republican Party that doesn’t want to send good money after bad” — specifically foreign aid to countries like Pakistan and Egypt where citizens have burned U.S. flags in protest.

And in the less than 10 minute interview, Paul said of all the upcoming Senate confirmation votes, he is most likely to vote against John Brennan for CIA director. Paul said he was concerned that Brennan failed to answer a question last week from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, about whether the president has the power to order an unmanned drone strike on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

Paul also insisted that he didn’t expect a tea party challenge to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014.

“I think it’s unlikely … I haven’t heard of any challenger coming forward,” Paul said — echoing what he told Pure Politics last week.

Crowley also asked Paul whether the online ad launched by the GOP group Crossroads signaled that McConnell is “in trouble.”

“When I heard Ashley Judd was interested in running for office I thought it was Parliament since she lives in Scotland half the year,” Paul said.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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