(Salon) -- Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has worked hard to distance himself from his party’s hawkish foreign policy, carefully cultivating an image as libertarian hero that may one day carry on the legacy — and potentially presidential ambitions — of his father, Rep. Ron Paul. He goes out of his way to criticize his party’s foreign policy, writing an Op-Ed on CNN.com last week attacking Mitt Romney’s “bellicose[ness]” in the Middle East during the debate. Paul has railed against military interventionism, vowed to cut the defense budget, called for a reduction in military bases overseas and otherwise alienated himself from the party’s powerful neoconservative wing as much as possible.
But there’s one area where Paul’s self-described libertarian freedom agenda is trumped by the ugliest type of neoconservative fear-mongering: Muslim-baiting. RandPAC, Paul’s political committee, is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking three Democratic senators for voting for foreign aid to Muslim countries. Paul introduced a bill to cut off foreign aid to Egypt, Pakistan and Libya. While there are some totally valid arguments supporting his bill, instead of making them, the commercials go for the nastiest attack possible, essentially accusing Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida and Sherrod Brown of Ohio of siding with jihadis and terrorists over Americans.