Sen. Rand Paul clarified his endorsement of Mitt Romney, clarifying that he and Romney may not agree on how a president can constitutionally wage war. On NRO today, Paul outlined why he endorsed Romney:
I endorsed Governor Romney for many reasons, not the least of which is that we simply cannot afford four more years of President Obama. Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, an out-of-control EPA and NLRB, and trillion-dollar deficits are combining to strangle our economy. I am afraid if that chokehold is not released quickly, our country may quickly follow Europe into destruction. Anyone who doesn’t believe there is a difference between the two candidates on economic issues is simply not looking or not being honest with their assessments.
Where the two differ, however, is foreign policy, as Paul explained:
I must oppose the most recent statements made by Mitt Romney in which he says he, as president, could take us to war unilaterally with Iran, without any approval from Congress. His exact words were:
I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now.
This is a misreading of the role of the president and Congress in declaring war.
The Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president. The War Powers Act also clearly states that U.S. forces are to engage in hostilities only if the circumstances are “pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”
Absent these criteria, the president has no authority to declare war.
Even if the president believes he has such authority, the War Powers Act goes on to require the president to seek congressional approval within 60 days of conflict.
No president is above the law or above the Constitution.
Our Founding Fathers were quite concerned about giving the power to declare war to the executive. They were quite concerned that the executive could rule like a king.
Before sending our young men and women into combat, we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications, the authorization, and the motives of the war. James Madison wrote that the Constitution supposes what history demonstrates, that the executive is the branch most interested in war and most prone to it. The Constitution, therefore, with studied care vested that power in the legislature.
I will hold accountable and oppose any actions from any president, Republican or Democrat, if he declares war without congressional consent.
This seems to be a polite way for Paul to put Mitt Romney on notice that notwithstanding the endorsement, Paul will stand on principle even if it means opposing a Republican president. That is, Paul has no problem being a burr in the side of politicians from either party who would disregard the limits of the constitution.
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