The anti-Paul contingent all say they aren’t worried his views on foreign policy are gaining ground with GOP voters. Since the Islamic State took over swaths of Iraq and Syria and began executing Western hostages, polls show Republicans have reverted to their Bush-era instinct towards aggressive counterterrorism abroad. One Pew poll last September conducted after ISIS’ rise found that 46% of Republicans believed the US did “too little” to solve global problems, up from just 18% who thought so a year earlier. More recent surveys show terrorism high atop GOP voters’ list of concerns. 

The fear, rather, is that Paul could get the nomination despite his unconventional foreign policy views if the campaign, as it did in 2012, focuses largely on domestic affairs.

“Republicans are small government conservatives and so an ideological libertarian says a lot of things they agree with,” Bolton said. “The consequences if you don’t require the candidates to elaborate on their national security views [is that] somebody with a view that doesn’t reflect the vast majority of the party might slip by.”…

“Neither of these self appointed guardians of national security have any chance of even qualifying for one Republican primary debate,” [Paul spokesman Brian] Darling said. “It is outrageous that anybody in the media treats these two as credible. Especially, Rep. Peter King who opposes gun rights, embraces every aspect of big government and is considered one of the most liberal members of the House Republican caucus. These two should be ashamed of themselves for the mud slinging against a fellow Republican, because they are putting personal gain before the long term health of the Republican Party.”