PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says he will offer Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, the opportunity to make the case to win his support during confirmation hearings, telling Rich Zeoli on Talk Radio 1210 that his experience leading the oil giant could ease his transition into the cabinet position.
“Tillerson, I’m keeping an open mind on. To my mind, I want someone at the Secretary of State position who agrees with Donald Trump that the Iraq war was a mistake, a strategic failure, that regime change in the Middle East has not been helpful, has not enhanced our national security and that nation building is extraordinarily expensive and that we can’t really rebuild our country here at home if we’re busy rebuilding countries abroad. Those are all things that Donald Trump has said over and over again, and I agree with that.”
Paul does not immediately see Tillerson’s close ties to Russian Vladimir Putin as a disqualifier, but wants to be sure he acknowledges the threats that Russia poses internationally.
“I think it’s unknown. That’s why I’m keeping an open mind. His job as a CEO was to get to know world leaders and make deals for Exxon, being part of getting the oil and gas out of the ground for people, probably 50 different countries. That’s his job. The fact that he’s had personal encounters with foreign leaders is probably a good opening of the door for diplomacy and negotiation, but I think that the negotiation begins from a position of strength and that’s what we’ll ask in the confirmation process. Does he understand that Russia has invaded the territorial integrity of other countries? Does he understand that they have had human rights abuses, as well as abuses to the media in their country? These are things that we use both diplomacy and resistance to try to modulate their behavior, that we don’t just cow tow and say, hey Russia, you can do whatever you want.”
He also said he wants the next Secretary of State to be much more hesitant to intervene in the affairs of other nations than members of the last two presidential administrations.
“A lot of it to me is more important than just Russia. It’s a bigger question. It’s the question of is it the job of the United States to topple regimes around the world and put in their place some sort of American concept of democracy? Even if you wanted to do that, it hasn’t really worked. We toppled Qaddafi in Libya at the behest of Hillary Clinton and John McCain and, frankly, it just didn’t work. The people who took over were worse than Qaddafi. It was chaos and ISIS spread into Libya. I think we need to understand and recognize, learn those historical lessons, so we don’t keep doing it.”