DOVER, N.H. — On Friday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul addressed comments he made in 2009 about former Vice President Dick Cheney that made headlines this week after Mother Jones posted video of the controversial remarks Monday.
In the clip, Paul seemed to suggest Cheney wanted to invade Iraq to benefit his former employer, Halliburton. The comments drew increased attention to Paul’s unorthodox libertarian foreign policy views.
After making a speech at a New Hampshire Republican Party rally in Dover, N.H. Friday, Paul told Business Insider his comments have been mischaracterized. He backtracked a bit, saying he wasn’t trying to question Cheney’s motives. However, he said the general appearance of a “conflict of interest” lingers when people like Cheney go back and forth between the private sector and government.
In his 2009 remarks, Paul noted Cheney was staunchly against invading Iraq during the George H.W. Bush administration, only to reverse course and become one of the War’s most fervent supporters when he became vice president. Paul repeated that criticism again on Friday.
“I do think it’s a problem with people going from government to Wall Street back to government — from government to contracting back to government,” Paul said. “Because I think there’s at least the appearance and the chance of a conflict of interest. And in his case, there was a policy of thinking it was a bad idea to invade Baghdad — then going to work in private for a contractor, coming back and now saying it was good. I don’t know what his thought process is, and I’m not trying to say. I’m just saying there’s an appearance that there could be a conflict of interest.”
The theory Cheney pushed for the invasion to benefit Halliburton is not a new one. However, it drew wider attention coming from Paul, who is a largely considered to be a prime contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. On Friday, paul repeatedly emphasised that he wasn’t trying to question Cheney’s motives.
“The point I was trying to make is one similar to one Eisenhower made,” Paul said. “He said that the military-industrial complex — beware, because then they could be influencing policy by people who make money off government contracts. I wasn’t intending really to impugn his personal motives. I think he is a patriot as much as anyone else, and wants what’s best for the country. I don’t always agree with him, but I don’t question his motives.”
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