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Rand Paul Muses About President Rubio Bringing Nuclear War

Paul said the U.S. was"lucky" Rubio was not in the White House during the Cold War. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Does Sen. Rand Paul think having Marco Rubio in the Oval Office in an earlier era could have brought about a nuclear war with the Soviet Union?  

In a new interview, it sure sounds that way.  

"We are really lucky he was never president during the Cold War," the Kentucky Republican, who, like Rubio, is seeking the GOP nomination for president said in an interview with CNBC posted Monday.  

Paul had been asked to respond to comments Rubio made, also to CNBC's John Hardwood, about support for establishing a no-fly zone over Syria that would apply to Russia.  

"Reagan avoided a Cold War by, one, not setting red lines like that, continuing to have open communication with the Russians, having a strong enough defense to repel attack and to worry the Russians. But we did not try to get involved with an altercation with them," Paul said. "You know who invited them there? Syria's invited them there, and so has Iraq. This is where the Rubios and the McCains of this world need to re-examine history."  

Rubio had said he doubted the Russians would fail to comply with a no-fly zone.  

"Number one, if you are going to have a no-fly zone, it has to be against anyone who would dare intrude on it. And I am confident that the United States Air Force can enforce that, including against the Russians," Rubio said in an interview aired on Oct. 5. "I believe the Russians would not test that. I don't think it's in the Russian's interest to engage in an armed conflict of the United States."  

That prompted Harwood to ask Rubio about the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not honor the terms of the safe zone.  

"Well, then you're going to have a problem, but that would be no different than any other adversary," Rubio said.  

Rubio and Paul are at opposite ends of the Republican spectrum on foreign policy, and the Kentuckian would prefer the U.S. steered clear of the internal conflict in Syria.  

"Just this week, Iraq has said that they welcome Russia there and they want Russia to be bombing targets in their country. And so what are we going to do? We're going to declare war against Russia and put them out? Setting up a no-fly zone is a recipe for disaster. It's a recipe for confrontation," Paul said in the interview released Monday. "And people will say, 'Well, we've got to choose sides.' Why? Assad's a bad person and so is ISIS, but we shouldn't be involved in the civil war over there."  

Related: K Street Lobbyists Still Love Marco Rubio Corker Wants Kerry to Testify About Putin, Syria See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.