McCain: Boston bombings proved Rand Paul wrong

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) suggested Sunday that fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) hurt his credibility on fighting terrorism.

Asked by CNN's Candy Crowley about Paul's objection to the Obama administration's surveillance programs, which McCain supports, McCain said Paul got it wrong in the runup to the Boston Marathon bombings.

"Just prior to the Boston bombing, he said the battlefield was no longer in America," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union." "He’s the only one that voted that Iran must not be ... contained in the pursuit of nuclear weapons. I disagree."

McCain and Paul have found themselves on opposite sides of many foreign policy and terrorism-related issues. After Paul's 13-hour filibuster of President Obama's drone program earlier this year, McCain labeled Paul and fellow conservatives -- including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) -- "wacko birds."

During the filibuster, Paul argued that the United States should not be considered a battlefield.

"Alarm bells should go off when people tell you that the battlefield's in America," he said, according to a transcript. "Why? Because when the battlefield's in America, we don't have due process. What they're talking about is they want the laws of war."

The second part of McCain's comment appears to refer to Paul's vote in September 2012 against a non-binding resolution seeking to contain Iran's nuclear program. Paul said the legislation amounted to a declaration of war.

Paul appeared on "Fox News Sunday" while McCain was on CNN. Despite his frequent battles with McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Paul described himself as a "conduit" between conservatives and moderates in Congress.

Update 11:29 a.m.: Paul ally Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) responds:

 

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · June 9, 2013