Potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul drew applause from The Citadel’s Corps of Cadets on Tuesday when he said Hillary Clinton should be disqualified from running for president because of the Benghazi affair.
“Her failure to provide our ambassador and his mission with adequate security should preclude Hillary Clinton from ever holding high office again,” Paul said of the former secretary of state in connection to last year’s fatal attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city.
While the comment was one of several applause points Paul, R-Ky., received during a 20-minute speech, it was also one of the more politically targeted.
A spokesman for the school said Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa does not respond to the comments of invited speakers.
After his remarks, Paul acknowledged to the media what he perceived to be a conservative bent among the school’s enrollment that probably played into the applause.
“If I had to guess, they’re pretty conservative here at The Citadel,” he said.
He went on to say that his comment about Clinton — and questions about the administration’s handling of the Benghazi response — draws widespread interest wherever he speaks.
“You could say it’s partisan, but I think there’s just concern,” he said.
Four Americans died in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Republicans in Washington have continued to press for a more in-depth accounting of what occurred.
Paul was at the Citadel as part of the school’s Greater Issues Series. His speech was largely geared toward the use of the U.S. military with particular criticism of the administration’s aid to entities hostile to the U.S., including in Egypt, with Syrian rebels aligned with al-Qaida and Pakistan.
“We have no legitimate national interest in Syria,” he said of the long-running civil war there, adding that it is wrong to send aid to any country where the U.S. flag is burned in protest.
A member of the Corps of Cadets said he didn’t think the crowd applause was necessarily anti-Clinton.
“It’s largely a conservative school,” said sophomore Joseph Benson. “We support the Republican side of the house, as a whole.”
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551