back to top

Rand Paul Attacks Trump For Praising Democrats, But Paul's Done That Too

Praise for the fiscal conservatism of Carter and Clinton over Bush and Reagan.

Posted on

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul released an ad earlier this week essentially accusing his presidential rival Donald Trump of being a closet Democrat for criticizing Republicans in the past while praising Democrats.

Doug Stafford, Rand Paul's presidential campaign's chief strategist, attacked The Donald in a statement to the Washington Post.

"Rand Paul is the one following in the footsteps of Reagan, setting the intellectual agenda for a conservative movement of change," Stafford said. "Rand stands for principle. He has detailed plans to end our debt by balancing the budget in 5 years. He has a detailed flat and fair tax that would be a huge tax cut for Americans while ending the corporate welfare gravy train for people like Donald Trump. He has real plans to defeat the Washington machine like term limits and forcing Congress to read the bills."

Paul, however, has a history of praising Democrats over Republicans. He even said in lead up to his Senate campaign in Kentucky in 2010 he would run more as independent than a Democrat or Republican.

One of Paul's lines of attack on Trump is the real estate mogul declaring in a 2004 interview "it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans." Trump's comment sounds similar to Paul's attack on Republicans for driving up the budget deficit worse than Democrats.

As Mother Jones' David Corn dredged up from YouTube, Paul repeatedly said Carter was better than Reagan when it came to deficit.

"A lot of us loved the rhetoric of Reagan," Paul said in 2009 at one event. "My dad supported Reagan in 1976 when only four US congressmen would stand up for him. The deficit still exploded…The deficit exploded because domestic spending rose faster under Reagan, so did military, but domestic spending rose faster under Reagan than under Jimmy Carter…We have to admit our failings because we're not going to get new people unless we become believable as a party again."

In his book too, The Tea Party Goes to Washington, Paul makes a similar point, saying Clinton's budgets were better than George W. Bush's.

"Obama has proved far worse than Bush, no doubt, but this doesn't make Bush preferable, unless preference is dictated solely by party affiliation," wrote Paul. "If judgment is based on spending and the budget, then Bill Clinton should be considered preferable to Bush, given that he spent less money than his successor."

"Thinking that Bush is preferable might be ideologically or emotionally soothing for some, in the same way it makes some people feel good to root for their favorite sports team. But when it comes to politics, it's useless— and worse, it's a large part of the reason our government is in such sad shape."

Paul also made the same point while campaigning for the Senate in 2009.

"The deficits went through the roof all throughout the 1980s and then we got who we think is the worst President of all time in the history of America, Bill Clinton, we all hate him we all hated him for eight years, but what happened to the deficit under bill Clinton, it got better," said Paul.

"Now it got better--it got better for a couple of reasons," continued Paul. "Spending one, spending may have slowed a little bit the rate of increase in spending. Tax revenue went up because they did raise taxes early on in Clinton's administration."

Paul also cited USA Today to make the case that divided government -- where no single party controls both the legislative and executive branches -- is actually more conservative in many cases than one party controlling the whole government.

In one instance in 2009, Paul said he would probably run more as an independent than as a Republican or a Democrat.

"If Bunning steps down there needs to be some true believer who runs for office. To me it's not important whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. It's important whether you believe in something, and if I were to run for office, in the end I would run more as an independent than I would as a specific party person, because I think it's more important the issues than the party," declared Paul in 2009. "So often we get trapped into 'oh well the Republicans are more Second Amendment lets go with the Republicans,' and they just payed you lip service and they've gone to Washington and done the opposite."

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at

Megan Apper is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Megan Apper at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.