In the emerging GOP civil war between Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) over the government’s use of drones, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made it clear Friday that he’s siding with the Kentucky libertarian.
Earlier this week, McCain blasted Paul’s 13-hour filibuster over the nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA. But while McCain and his old ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) criticized, other Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), rushed to join Paul’s cause. Gingrich said he was “saddened” by McCain’s response.
“Well, I’m really disappointed in John McCain. And I’m very saddened by it,” Gingrich told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “McCain, in his younger years, was a great maverick. He took on his party all the time. The idea that he’s now lecturing the next generation because they have the guts to stand up, which is I — I would have thought John McCain we do have applauded them and he would have said, I may not agree with you in detail, but I’m proud of the fact that you’re standing up for your beliefs, you’re fighting. I don’t know what’s happened to John McCain. But I find this very sad.”
McCain contended on Friday that his vision of national security, not Paul’s, upholds the legacy of former President Ronald Reagan. But Gingrich said when it comes to the use of drones on American soil, Paul is right.
“I mean if our constitution means anything, it means that your government can’t capriciously kill you without the rule of law,” Gingrich said. “And it was very clear from the attorney general’s earlier letters that they were reserving the right — remember, we’re not talking about a combatant engaged in fighting against the U.S.”
Graham had argued earlier in the week that the Kentucky senator’s question posed to Attorney General Eric Holder about the use of drones against American citizens was unseemly, but Gingrich said he saw nothing “inappropriate” in Paul’s actions.