Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in his Capitol Hill office last year. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
Columnist

During the GOP primaries, Donald Trump tweeted that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was a “lightweight” who “didn’t get the right gene” from his father, Ron Paul, and did not belong on the Republican debate stage, but should instead “focus on trying to get elected in Kentucky — a great state which is embarrassed by him.”

For his part, Paul dismissed Trump as “someone whose level of discourse is that of junior high” and as “a celebrity that really doesn’t have qualifications for office and in fact would alarm me if he were in charge of our nuclear weapons.”

But now Paul is trying to become a de-facto Trump transition adviser, urging the president-elect not to appoint John Bolton as secretary of state. (Full disclosure: Bolton is a colleague at the American Enterprise Institute.)

“President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on changing our disastrous foreign policy,” Paul recently wrote, adding that “to appoint John Bolton would be a major first step toward breaking that promise.” He further declared in an interview with Politico that “I’ll do whatever it takes to stop someone like John Bolton being secretary of state. He’s opposed to everything Donald Trump ran on … I don’t know how a President Trump could appoint someone who’s diametrically opposed to everything Donald Trump ran on.”

High-minded advice from a former rival trying to help the new commander in chief succeed? Or is something a bit baser at play here?

Perhaps Paul’s opposition to Bolton may have something to do with this ad that an organization founded by Bolton, the Foundation for American Security and Freedom, ran against Paul during the GOP primaries. The ad shows an American family sitting down for dinner when a nuclear bomb goes off and wipes them out — and then cuts to a video of Paul declaring at a campaign event that “our national security is not threatened by Iran having one nuclear weapon.” The ad concludes with the picture a mushroom cloud rising and the tag line “It only takes one.”

You can see the ad here:

Ouch.

Bolton also had choice words for Paul when they clashed over renewal of the Patriot Act, which Paul claimed was unconstitutional. As Bolton said of Paul in a Fox News interview, “He’s flatly wrong, and I don’t think he’d recognize the framers of the Constitution if he ran into them in the hallway.”

You can watch that video here.

So, Paul’s opposition to Bolton should be taken with a grain of salt. He has an ax to grind. And it takes a lot of chutzpah for Paul (who says our security is “not threatened” by Iran getting a nuclear weapon) to be advising Trump (who has declared that “Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, cannot be allowed. Remember that, cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. And under a Trump administration, will never, ever be allowed to have that nuclear weapon”) about taking advice from people whose views are “diametrically opposed” to his.