McCain: Hillary Clinton vs. Rand Paul in 2016 would be ‘tough choice’

McCain: Hillary Clinton vs. Rand Paul in 2016 would be ‘tough choice’

This probably won’t do anything to stem the tide of “The Maverick Is Back” headlines. Sen. John McCain said in an interview published Wednesday in the New Republic that if the 2016 White House race boils down to Hillary Clinton vs. Rand Paul, he would face a “tough choice.”

In the wide-ranging question-and-answer session, McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, fiercely defended his choice of Sarah Palin to be his running mate, affirmed that President Barack Obama has grown in office, and criticized the Pentagon’s obvious reluctance to get more involved in Syria’s civil war.

So who would he vote for in 2016 if it came down to Kentucky’s junior Republican senator and the Democratic former secretary of state?

“It’s gonna be a tough choice,” McCain told the magazine with a laugh.

Let me just clarify that,” McCain added quickly. “I think that Rand Paul represents a segment of the GOP, just like his father. And I think he is trying to expand that, intelligently, to make it larger.”

McCain — a foreign policy hawk who favors an assertive American role in world affairs — has clashed openly with the younger Paul, who warns against military intervention and has sharply criticized the national security state.

The Arizona Republican, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, has frequently been sharply at odds with Obama on international affairs. So he does he think Clinton did as secretary of state?

“I think she did a fine job. She’s a rock star. She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world,” McCain said.

“I do think it is interesting that the issues where (Secretary of State) John Kerry is engaging is where Hillary Clinton did not engage in, that those decisions were left to the White House and the National Security Council,” he added, implicitly laying first-term foreign policy setbacks at the feet of the White House.

What about Palin? Does it bother him that the decision to pick her as his running mate in 2008 will weigh on his legacy?

"No, because I think historians will decide that facts are stubborn things," McCain replied, saying that his campaign got a boost in the polls and that the former Alaska governor "held her own" against then-Sen. Joe Biden.

"She did everything I ever wanted. She excited our base in a way I was unable to achieve," McCain said. "Not only do I not regret it, but I have probably not seen anyone in American life savaged like she was, particularly by the liberal left."

Read the whole thing (as they say) here.