WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made a name for himself with snarky and often pointed barbs directed at fellow possible presidential contenders. On social media and in numerous television appearances, the libertarian-leaning senator and his team of operatives have consistently made hay out of potential weaknesses, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's support of Common Core education standards and Hillary Clinton's email scandal.
But on the eve of announcing his campaign for president Tuesday in Louisville, Kentucky, Paul found himself on the receiving end of hawkish elements of the Republican Party, which he has frequently sparred with in the past. Only this time he wasn't the subject of mockery via tweets or emails, Paul's preferred methods of trolling, but a seven-figure ad buy that will air in early primary states.
The 30-second ad, first reported by The New York Times, was paid for by a shadowy 501(c)(4) group, the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, which is not required to disclose its donors. It hammers Paul for comments he made in a 2007 interview, when he claimed it was "ridiculous to think" that Iran was "a threat to our national security."
"It's not even that viable to say they're a national threat to Israel," Paul added in the interview. "Most people say Israel has 100 nuclear weapons, you know."
The ad accused Paul of "standing with" President Barack Obama, who recently announced the beginnings of a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
"Rand Paul supports Obama's negotiations with Iran. But he doesn't understand the threat," the narrator in the ad says.
The spot then shows a nuclear bomb going off, as the narrator closes with: "Rand Paul is wrong and dangerous. Tell him to stop siding with Obama because even one Iranian bomb would be a disaster."
After a week of radio silence, during which his team claimed the senator was "out of pocket" with his family and thus unable to respond to newsy topics such as Indiana's controversial religious freedom law, Paul's camp finally addressed the subject of Iran with a cautious statement Monday evening.
"We don't know the details of the deal yet," a spokesman for his PAC told Bloomberg. "Senator Paul will be watching closely and believes any deal must make clear Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, allows for full verification and is approved by Congress. He voted for sanctions both times they were put before Congress and believes only Congress should remove those sanctions."
Watch the ad above.
UPDATE: Paul's campaign has filed a legal notice with the television stations airing the advertisements, BuzzFeed reported Thursday.
In a letter to the stations obtained by BuzzFeed, a lawyer for Paul's campaign accuses the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America of misleading voters of Paul's position on Iran, and reminds the stations that they are legally liable for running "false and misleading" ads.
The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America wrote a letter in response saying that Paul could run his own advertisements explaining his position on Iran.
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