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Rand Paul slams Obama for not seeking Congress’ approval on Libya

DES MOINES — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told a crowd of Republican officials and activists in Des Moines over the weekend that President Barack Obama should have come to Congress before taking military action in the Middle East, as President George W. Bush did for Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Now, President Bush got a lot of grief from a lot of different angles for the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War,” Paul said. “But you know what? In both instances, he came to Congress and Congress at least voted on it before we went.”

President Obama sets a terrible precedent with committing to military involvement in Libya, Paul said, and went on to assert the President cares more about the United Nations than Congress.

Even though Congress did vote on military action, many people remain critical of Bush for not asking for a formal Congressional declaration of war. One of the most critical voices of Bush’s handling of the wars in the Middle East has been Sen. Paul’s father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). In January, at the beginning of the current session of Congress, Congressman Paul entered evidence of alleged war crimes Bush was responsible for into Congressional Record via a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ron Paul’s supporters heckled Vice-President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference, calling them “war criminals.”

Bush had to defend himself against Congressman Paul’s consistent criticism of the Bush administration’s foreign policy, as Paul called for a non-interventionist approach. Paul was one of six Republicans to vote against the Iraq Resolution and consistently said both wars were illegal partly because Congress never declared war.

Sen. Paul was speaking at the Iowa GOP‘s “Night of the Rising Stars” event Saturday. The Senator said the most important vote Congress ever takes is whether or not to send armed forces to war, and pledged to fight against it in the coming weeks.

He also told a story about the former owner of his congressional desk, Henry Clay, who was known as the “Great Compromiser.” Paul said there were some deeply held beliefs Congressmen should never compromise on, such as slavery, on which Clay did broker compromises.

“Now some would say the issues we deal with today have no moral equivalency today as slavery,” Paul said. “But I would say that when we think about things, there are questions we should ask. Can a civilization long endure that doesn’t respect life? Will we be judged at some point in time on whether we stood up and said that the law and the land should respect the unborn?”

That remark earned Paul’s most extended round of applause of the night.

He said the country was facing fast approaching a “day of reckoning,” to reach the point when the U.S. can no longer pay its bills and destroy its currency as a result of the deficit and the debt owed to other countries.

Paul pledged deep cuts in the federal budget. He said while Congress debates cuts near $32 billion, people in his home district tell him cutting $500 billion would be “a good start.”

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced Paul and said he’d like to see spending levels back to 2008 numbers, although the federal deficit grew under Bush.

Paul also took a shot at U.S. Sen Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) as he opened his speech, describing a debate he had on the floor of the Senate with him.

He said he told Harkin there could be more investment in infrastructure and education if people didn’t have to pay “Chicago union scale wages” in Iowa or Kentucky, to which he said Harkin told him, “You can’t have any kind of quality products made unless they’re made by union workers.” The crowd groaned, and Paul said you would have to throw out 95 percent of the products you consume if Harkin’s statement was true.

Paul didn’t make any references to his own speculation of a White House run, but said Iowans needed to find the right Republican to run in 2012. Senator Paul will return in the summer for a Faith & Freedom Coalition event, alongside other potential 2012 candidates.

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