And now we have this, from Olivia Nuzzi at the Daily Beast, and I really hope no Democrat tries to follow up:
Rand Paul Has Passport, Won’t TravelJust as most Americans don't have an elite education, most Americans haven't been to a large number of countries (and if they have traveled, they may have gone swimming in flower-printed swim trunks). So if you attack Paul for this, once again, ordinary Americans are going to feel attacked.
... Since entering the Senate in January 2011, Paul has spent much of his time focused on reimagining America’s role in the world, but he apparently doesn't have much interest in traveling to many of the places he talks about.
In his capacity as a federal lawmaker, Paul has traveled abroad just once: to Israel and Jordan in 2013 for a privately funded tour that was described as an “information gathering trip.”
Paul met with King Abdullah and swam in the Dead Sea, clad in flower-printed swim trunks.
Beyond that jaunt to the Middle East, Senator Paul’s feet have remained firmly on American soil, according to Senate records.
Being a foreign policy expert who never goes anywhere foreign is not necessarily hypocritical, though it is a little unusual, especially because Paul has served on the Foreign Relations Committee since 2013....
Beyond that, as Nuzzi notes, Paul does leave the country on a regular basis, for a reason most Americans would find admirable:
Paul’s aides respond to questions about the senator’s lack of international travel by noting that in his role as a doctor -- he is an ophthalmologist by trade -- Paul visited Guatemala in August to perform eye surgery on the poor. Sergio Gor, his spokesman, also said in an email that Paul “plans another trip this summer to a yet to be announced nation.”Yeah, go ahead -- try telling the average American that this doesn't really count as a worthwhile overseas trip.
(It’s actually not such a big secret. In a January interview in Las Vegas, Paul told me, “I’ll be in Haiti in August doing surgery.”)
We've been here before, of course. In 2000, this line of attack was used against George W. Bush:
The Republican nominee for president of the United States could be called the quintessential nowhere man, having gone fewer places and gained less world experience than any candidate for president in modern American history.The public didn't care.
Outside of trips to Mexico, the country bordering Texas, Bush is claiming only three overseas trips. His longest was a month-long stay in China in 1975 when his father was U.S. envoy.
The New York Times cited this trip in an article about Bush’s surprising ambition to be president, noting his “overseas experience was pretty much limited to trying to date Chinese women (unsuccessfully) during a visit to Beijing in 1975.” [NYT, Oct. 29, 2000]
Another overseas trip was with a delegation of state governors to the Middle East in 1998, Bush's campaign said. En route, Bush stopped in Italy to see one of his daughters, apparently Bush’s only time in Europe.
The third overseas trip was a visit to the African country of Gambia as part of a U.S. delegation commemorating Gambia’s independence. [NYT, Oct. 30, 2000]
Those three trips leave out vast areas of the world and suggest a lack of curiosity about people and history outside American borders.
On the other hand, I'm not sure what -- or, rather, who -- inspired Nuzzi to write her story. The story smells like opposition research fed to a journalist -- but by whom? It could be the Clinton campaign, but it could just as easily be the campaign of a better-traveled Republican, or it could be an organization on the right that's determined to prevent the insufficiently hawkish Paul from winning the nomination. Nuzzi's story certainly lists a lot of travel by a number of Paul's likely primary competitors:
According to his travel disclosures, Senator Ted Cruz has traveled three times as a part of a congressional delegation, including one trip led by then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to Israel, Afghanistan and Italy in January 2013.At this point, we're told that recent junkets by Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker add up to more impressive travel resumes than Paul's. Yeah, I think this story came from some right-wing outfit or other.
Senator Marco Rubio has been on several foreign trips as a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee. In 2011, he visited Kuwait, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. And in 2014, he jetted off to Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.
Several GOP governors, who have less of a responsibility to travel abroad than a federal lawmaker who oversees American foreign policy, have been far more interested in seeing the world than Paul....
Dems, let the Republicans talk this way. Don't join in.