Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul continue to stoke speculation about a possible run for president in 2016 during a Monday evening speech in New Hampshire, where he said the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS was "un-American."
Paul spoke on Monday in the state which hosts the nation's first presidential primary every four years, 10 days after delivering a highly-touted speech in Iowa, the only state whose nominating contest precedes New Hampshire's in each presidential election cycle.
In the week and a half since then, Republicans have been politically invigorated by a new report condemning IRS officials' actions to single out conservative and Tea Party groups for more scrutiny in applying for tax-exempt status.
"Anybody who would use the power or abuse the power of government to go after their political opponents," Paul said Monday, seizing on the controversy, "to take that brute force, that bullying force of government, and use it against your opponents, there is something distinctly and profoundly un-American about that."
The freshman Kentucky senator joked that the IRS controversy — combined with fresh outrage at President Barack Obama's handling of last year's response to an attack in Benghazi, Libya and revelations that the Department of Justice had monitored journalists' phones and emails as part of a leak investigation — reminded him of "Old MacDonald," the childhood song: "here a scandal, there a scandal, everywhere a scandal."
On Benghazi, Paul repeated his criticism of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's handling of the matter, faulting her and State Department officials for failing to provide adequate security for the U.S. diplomatic compound that fell under attack last September.
"Benghazi should've be treated, and still to this day should be treated, like Baghdad," he said of the security that should be provided for the facility. "It should be under military control, not State Department control."
But for all of Paul's strident criticism of the Obama administration, he did seem to break from some fellow Republicans on libertarian grounds, over the prosecution of the suspect in this year's Boston Marathon terrorist attack. Though many GOP heavyweights have argued that Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the alleged bomber, should have been held for longer without criminal justice rights. Paul paraphrased a conversation of a first responder in Boston to illustrate his point.
"He said, 'What separates us from them is that when we did finally capture him … we sent the suspect to a hospital. He's going to be tried in a court of law, he's going to have an attorney,'" Paul recounted. "If this had been their country, he would have been dragged through the streets if he were an American … and beaten to death with a tire iron. We are different than they are."
This story was originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 9:06 PM EDT