WASHINGTON — Former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul said on Friday that it's too early to tell if his views on the Ukraine conflict and other foreign policy issues could hurt his son's potential presidential candidacy.
"I don't think so, it's too early to tell," Paul said when asked if his positions on Russia and Vladimir Putin could harm Sen. Rand Paul's possible presidential campaign. "He's not even an announced candidate. I don't think that's the case."
"Rand speaks very well for himself," Paul said. Rand Paul, while farther to the isolationist side than the other potential 2016 Republican candidates, has made moves away from his father's positions, reaching out to neoconservatives and presenting himself as more pro-Israel. Meanwhile, Paul has increasingly defended Russian President Vladimir Putin's position in the Ukraine conflict and blamed the U.S.
Paul has questioned the U.S. narrative on the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing nearly 300 people, arguing that there is no evidence that Russia was ultimately responsible despite the fact that conversations between pro-Russian separatists discussing their downing of the flight were intercepted and a separatist leader even admitted to the AP that they had shot down the plane.
The media "will not report that neither Russia nor the separatists in eastern Ukraine have anything to gain but everything to lose by shooting down a passenger liner full of civilians," Paul wrote in a column last weekend.
On Friday, Paul said it doesn't matter to him whether or not the Russians were behind the crash — his point, he said, was that the U.S. should not be involved no matter what.
"It doesn't affect my position on what we should do if somebody proved tomorrow that Russia did it," he said. "I don't want to send any more troops in, any more money in, or antagonize anybody."
"I do try to point out hypocrisy when it looks like total blame is being put by the mainstream media on Russia and on Putin, then I want them to say, 'wait a minute, we don't know that for sure.'"
Asked about the convincing evidence that separatists armed and funded by Russia were behind the attack, Paul said "I don't think the facts are totally in. We could say the same thing about the western Ukrainians, they're getting outside support."
Paul said the media focuses too much on alleged Russian culpability and not enough on "the US and European participation in the coup of [former Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych."
"They're very much involved in Ukraine," Paul said of the U.S. "Special forces are there, the CIA is there. They were very much involved in Yanukovych's removal."
The U.S. is "every bit as involved and who knows, maybe more involved than Putin is."
Paul is launching a spinoff of his Ron Paul Channel called Voices of Liberty, a site that will encourage commenting and involvement from subscribers, though it isn't a forum for them to post articles themselves.
"I'm not going to give space on my front page to Michael Ledeen to give his side of the viewpoint," Paul said, referring to the neoconservative writer. "People who disagree with concepts that I have been working on for a long time, if they don't agree, they're not going to have a special place on my website."
He is not yet sure how involved he'll be in Rand's potential campaign, he said.
"I just haven't given that any thought, it's so far off," he said. "I have a very active schedule."
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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