Republican hopeful Paul opens criticism ahead of Clinton announcement

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2015 10:00 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul said on Sunday Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state cast doubt on her qualifications to be president, taking aim at the Democratic favorite hours before her expected campaign announcement.

Clinton is expected to officially open her campaign later on Sunday as her party's prohibitive front runner in the 2016 election race.

Paul repeated both longstanding criticism of her handling of a 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and of recent questions about foreign contributions to a charity established by her and former President Bill Clinton.

"There is a history of the Clintons feeling they are above the law," the Kentucky senator, who recently announced his presidential bid, told CNN's "State of the Union" program.

The Clinton Foundation's acceptance of contributions from countries like Saudi Arabia, criticized for its strict dress and other rules that discriminate against women, "makes it difficult for her message to appear sincere," Paul said.

"They said they were not going to take donations for the Clinton Foundation during the period of time she was secretary of state, and there are questions whether they did," Paul said.

Referring to what some Republicans feel was an inadequate security response to threats against the Benghazi consulate, Paul questioned, "would she be there for the 3 a.m. phone call?" as commander-in-chief.

Beyond those more recent issues, Paul said that the full span of Clinton's decades in public life, stemming back to Bill Clinton's eight years in the White House, would be fair game in the upcoming campaign.

On Benghazi, Clinton has defended her decision to have diplomats in dangerous places but noted that incomplete information increased the risk in the Libyan city in 2012.

The Clinton Foundation, best known for reducing the cost of drugs for people with HIV in the developing world, has said collaboration with foreign governments is essential for its humanitarian work.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Frances Kerry)