(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised Sen. Rand Paul’s stamina and conviction after his nearly 13-hour filibuster, but some of Paul’s Republican colleagues were less than impressed with the Kentucky senator’s marathon effort.
Reid said it was refreshing to see the Senate floor used as it should be — for debate.
The Nevada Democrat said, “Rand Paul had a right to talk. This can be a Senate where ideas are debated in full public view and obstruction happens in full public view as well, or it can be a Senate where a couple senators, obstruction from behind closed doors without ever coming to the Senate floor.”
Reid joked, “What I’ve learned from my experiences with talking filibusters is this: to succeed you need strong convictions but also a strong bladder. It’s obvious Sen. Paul has both.”
Paul staged the filibuster in an effort to get clarification from the Obama administration regarding its policy of the potential use of drones to fight terrorism on U.S. soil. He expressed concern about the president having the authority to order a drone strike against an American on U.S. soil.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain called Paul’s filibuster a “political stunt.”
“If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms,” McCain said, borrowing quotes from a Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday that similarly blasted the Kentucky Republican’s filibuster.
McCain acknowledged there needs to be more debate, discussion and legislation about enemy combatants and drones, but said the imagery drawn up by Paul’s filibuster was a “stretch of the imagination,” that is not helpful to the overall conversation.
McCain said he thought it was a “disservice to a lot Americans” to make them think that they are somehow in danger from their government. “They’re not,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham said the question Paul was asking was so ridiculous it didn’t even deserve an answer.
The South Carolina Republican said, “This president is not going to use a drone against a noncombatant sitting in a cafe anywhere in the United States, nor will future presidents, because if they do, they will have committed an act of murder.”
Graham stood on the Senate floor Thursday and held up an oversized poster to drive his point home. The sign read: “Number of Americans Killed in the US: By al-Qaeda: 2,958, By Drones: 0.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he thought Paul’s filibuster was “heartfelt and important.”
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Kevin Liptak, CNN
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN
Shelbie Harris, Idaho State Journal