Ahead of his rollout of his presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul's team is already pushing back against charges that the Kentucky Republican is weak on Iran.
"The Washington machine is worried that our message is resonating across all 50 states. These attacks are false. Senator Rand Paul has voted for Iran sanctions and continues to believe that Iran should be forbidden from acquiring nuclear weapons," senior adviser Doug Stafford said in a statement. "Senator Paul will oppose any deal which does not guarantee Iran giving up its nuclear ambition."
The comments from Stafford, provided to media outlets including CQ Roll Call between the online launch of Paul's 2016 White House bid and the formal announcement Tuesday in Louisville, come after Bloomberg reported there's already an outside group that will be running ads against Paul saying he has stood against ratcheting up sanctions pressure against the Iranian regime.
Just before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address back in January, Paul told CQ Roll Call he was against advancing additional sanctions at that juncture because of the risk that other countries in the sanctions coalition could step back or otherwise change course, but he also said he thought Iran should know the consequences of not following through on its commitments.
"I don’t think we keep the unanimity of that sanctions coalition together if we pass new sanctions," Paul said.
"The proposition that I've been floating has been that we let Iran know that if they don’t comply with the current agreement, the interim agreement, that sanctions would be resumed. I think this a better way than placing new sanctions on," Paul said. "Then what would happen is you would have presumption of what is already out there, and it would be based on Iranian noncompliance instead of Congress setting new parameters."
He also said in the January interview that he favors thinking before acting in the foreign policy arena.
"As physicians, we're taught first to do no harm, which means think through," Paul said. "You have enormous power as a surgeon. Before you cut into someone, make sure you have the right diagnosis. Try not to make mistakes."
Stafford said Tuesday that Paul supports efforts to require congressional approval of a final agreement between the United States, Iran and international partners over its nuclear program.
"Finally, any deal with Iran should be approved by Congress and not exclusively by the Obama administration," Stafford said.
Paul is one of the co-sponsors of the Corker-Menendez Iran bill, which has 66 public supporters. Related: Rand Paul 2016 Getting Started in Louisville Iran Bill One Vote Away From Veto-Proof Majority The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.