Next week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will barnstorm Iowa's college campuses to build on the 15 "Students for Rand" chapters that his campaign has painstakingly built. Doing so will mean an even greater emphasis on the libertarian issues that Paul's tried to focus on since the second presidential debate.
"College kids are a natural constituency for us," Paul said in an interview. I think they gravitate to my message of the right to privacy, the right to be left alone, the right not to have the government collecting all your phone records... young people fight our wars, and they tend to be not as excited about fighting civil wars in which, oftentimes, both sides represent various forms of evil."
The crisis in Syria was exhibit A. Paul called a no-fly zone over the country, an idea floated by several Republican presidential candidates and by Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, a "terrible idea" that could "lead to World War III" if anyone was stupid enough to follow through.
"That's drawing a red line in the sky," Paul said. Once you draw a red line, and people cross it, what happens? Now we're talking about an incident that could lead to World War III. We went 70 years having open channels of communication with the Russians, trying to avoid having one side shoot down the opposite side's plane. I think the people who call for a no-fly zone are naive. Right now, Russia's actually being invited by two of the neighboring countries, by Iraq and Syria. We're going to say we're going to stop Russia from flying in the area when two of the countries being flown over have invited that country in? This gets back to whether we want to diplomatically isolate ourselves, or whether we want to diplomatically engage."
Clinton and the other no-fly advocates have envisioned something that the Russians would approve. But Paul was firming up his position as the race's lone dove. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), he said, was getting less "liberty movement" support than the media might suggest, in part because "his candidacy has become more aggressive with wanting us involved in the Middle East." Carly Fiorina, the latest candidate to surge ahead in Iowa, was "very worrisome" in her hawkishness. "She says she won't talk to Putin, she'll have a no-fly zone, and she's ready to use force against Russia. Well, that's precisely the kind of person we don't want running our country."
After the interview, Paul sat for a panel on Fox News, where he told host Bret Baier that the Syria hawks were totally unrealistic. "Do you want to drive Russia out of Syria?" he asked. "Do you want a land war with Russia? There is no scenario where America can stand up and say: Begone, Russia!"