CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is running television ads attacking Democratic senators who voted against his amendment to legislation on Sept. 21 that would have cut off foreign aid to Egypt, Pakistan and Libya.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., are Paul's first two targets.
"While they tear down and burn the American flag in Egypt and shout 'Death to America,' Joe Manchin votes to provide U.S. taxpayer aid to Egypt," Paul's 60-second ad states.
"While radical Islamists burn our embassy and kill our ambassador in Libya, Joe Manchin votes to send more taxpayer money to Libya."
The advertisements fail to point out Paul's legislation received just nine favorable votes, while 81 senators -- including 30 Republicans -- voted against it.
The ad ends by stating, "Joe Manchin works with Barack Obama to send billions of our taxpayer dollars to countries where radicals storm our embassies, burn our flag and kill our diplomats."
Manchin said many senators thought Paul's amendment may have been "well-intentioned but severely flawed."
Manchin believes it would also have "jeopardized our greatest Middle Eastern ally, Israel.
"When we voted in September, I promised to work across the aisle to correct the problems and stop giving aid to countries that don't share our values and won't defend our interests -- and I am determined to get the right policy in place," Manchin said.
On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined Manchin in a telephone conference call about the controversial ads.
"A lot of debate goes on about foreign aid," Graham said. "Foreign relations are not a Democrat or Republican issue, but a American issue.
"I very much would like to have a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Senate. But when it comes to foreign policy and the matters of war, I think we need to be bipartisan," Graham said.
"Most Americans are war weary. We are broke. We are $16 trillion in debt. If I thought we could withdraw from the Middle East and we would be safe, I would do it. But we don't have easy choices available to us."
Graham, who has traveled widely in the Middle East, said the U.S. already has criteria in place that could, under certain circumstances, terminate aid to countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Libya -- the three countries Paul's ad focuses on.
"Al-Qaida, the Taliban and radical Islamists would like nothing more than to have America withdraw from the region."
Graham then focused on the negative impacts from withdrawing all U.S. aid.
"If we stopped our assistance to Egypt at this point, that would destroy the Camp David accords -- the worst thing we could have done to the state of Israel. This new government in Egypt is a work in progress. We cannot write off the largest nation in the Arab world."
Graham believes the people who recently killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya need to be brought to justice.
"But they do not represent the Libyan government. Most people in Libya want to move forward, not backward," Graham said. "People in Libya want to go a different way. We have to help them."
Graham believes Pakistan is a very complex country.
"The Pakistanis allow us to ship supplies into Afghanistan and are working better with us killing terrorists on the Pakistani border.
"The Rand Paul amendment would have required us to withdraw assistance to these three countries that are critically important to our national security."
Several other Republicans spoke out in strong opposition to Paul's amendment last month, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz, and Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
McCain said cutting off all assistance to Libya "would abandon our friends to our terrorist enemies, destroy America's moral standing in the world, and do egregious harm to our national interests."
Corker believes "we need to reform foreign aid in a way that leads to greater accountability, but Sen. Paul's amendment is not the answer.
"If terrorists in any country that we are aiding trespass at one of our embassies or consulates, this amendment forces the aid to be withdrawn, even if the country is cooperating with us and working as an ally." Reach Paul J. Nyden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5164.