Rand Paul said in Thursday's primetime Republican presidential debate that "only ISIS is responsible for the terrorism" and the "depravity."
The statement contradicts years of prior foreign policy statements by Paul, who in the past has said that American foreign policy was a leading cause of terrorism.
Paul made the comments in response to a question from Fox News moderator Bret Baier, who alluded to comments Paul made in February, when he said, "ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately."
That remark is in the same vein of Paul's past comments on the causes of terrorism.
In 2007, for instance, acting as a surrogate for his father's presidential campaign, Paul said that "the main reason the terrorists say they came here is because we're over there, because we have bases in their land and they don't like it."
In 2008, he said, to "figure out what is going on with terrorism," Americans need to "imagine what your feelings would be" if Chinese soldiers were occupying the United States.
"You have to truly imagine what your feelings would be if those soldiers were Chinese soldiers and they were occupying the United States," he said then. "We wouldn't have it. Republican and Democrat, we'd be setting the roadside bombs, blowing up the Chinese soldiers as they came off the base. No country wants foreign soldiers on their land."
Similarly, in his 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, Paul argued that "intrusive behavior by the United States in Islamic nations" had resulted in a "blowback" effect.
"Is it possible that decades of arguably far more intrusive behavior by the United States in Islamic nations has also had an effect on those populations, encouraging and increasing the threat of Islamic terrorism?" he wrote. "The CIA created the term blowback to describe this phenomenon and the 9/11 Commission Report cites blowback as a primary cause of the September 11, 2001 attacks."
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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