Even in Iowa, a dovish state where Paul holds strong favorability ratings, the appetite for increased military interventionism against ISIS is high. In a new Bloomberg survey, nearly half of Republicans ranked “more aggressively pursuing terrorists” as a leading issue out of 10 tested, ranking a close second behind repealing Obamacare.
But as the country is taking a hawkish turn, Paul has instead veered to the left. He’s the only Senate Republican opposing the reimplementation of tough sanctions on Iran, cosponsoring a less-punitive alternative bill with liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer. He’s one of the few Republicans to support President Obama’s push to normalize relations with Cuba, making him the only Republican presidential candidate to take that position. When he spoke to an ostensibly friendly, libertarian-minded audience at the Koch-backed Freedom Partners summit last month, Paul received a cool reception for his foreign policy views while Sen. Marco Rubio’s more-hawkish views received an enthusiastic response.
Paul’s positions have become so out-of-step with the Republican electorate that even those who agree with him on foreign policy are sounding bearish about his chances. “If we are being honest, the 2014 election re-empowered and reinvigorated the party’s hawks,” correspondent Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote in The Week.