Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) quickly backed off a comment he made on Sunday that some of his critics “secretly want there to be an attack” against the US.
“I think sometimes in the heat of battle, hyperbole can get the better of anyone. And that may be the problem there,” Paul said in a Monday morning “Fox News” interview. “The point I was trying to make is that I think people do use fear to try and get us to give up our liberty.”
The 2016 presidential candidate spearheaded the latest congressional dustup by using procedures to stall the reauthorization of parts of the Patriot Act. Certain provisions of the controversial surveillance bill — notably the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk records collection surveillance program — temporarily expired on Sunday. Paul blasted the motives of unnamed “people” during his floor speech.
“People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake. Some of them, I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me. One of the people in the media the other day came up to me and said, ‘Oh, when there’s a great attack, aren’t you going to feel guilty that you caused this great attack?’ ” Paul said then.
Paul was repeatedly pressed during his subsequent Fox News interview about whether he stood by this quote. However, the libertarian-oriented senator would only speak in broad terms about the “heat of battle” and a potential “hyperbole” on his part.
“I think sometimes going after people’s motives — and impugning people’s motives — is a mistake. And in the heat of battle, I think sometimes hyperbole can get the better of all of us,” he said, citing the “completely untrue” claim that the Patriot Act was needed to investigate the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. “I think we need to have an intelligent debate. And I think sometimes hyperbole gets the best of us, I think is the best way to put it.”
Asked a third time on whether he would specifically retract his attack, Paul reiterated his previous statements on the matter.
“I think by calling it ‘hyperbole,’ that means I may well have exaggerated the case,” he said.
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