When it comes to foreign policy, Sen. Rand Paul has spent the last several years in Congress challenging his party’s definition of what it means to be a Republican. Despite being from the party often thought of as the home of defense hawks and ballooning defense budgets, Paul has spent most of his tenure in the Senate challenging foreign-aid disbursements, the U.S. spy apparatus, and—in a defining 13-hour filibuster—where to draw the line on overseas drone strikes.
In recent months, as he has prepared for his presidential launch, Paul has attempted to soften his reputation as a scion of his father’s hard-lined libertarianism. He has quieted calls to slash foreign aid and has publicly spoken out about the danger posed by the Islamic State if the United States does not take adequate steps to combat it. In the most recent Senate vote-a-rama, Paul introduced an amendment to boost defense spending by nearly $190 billion, something that would be offset by cutting foreign aid and spending to domestic agencies.
Putting Paul in a clearly marked box is difficult. But while Paul has appeared to move slightly to the middle on some issues, like military spending, his long-term record in the Senate still stands out against many GOP elders’ records and frequently stands out against those he will be competing against in 2016.