(CNN) - Speaking to a gathering of Iowa Republicans Friday, Sen. Rand Paul seemed to set his sights beyond the state's 2016 caucus - in which he could very well be a contender - and instead zeroed on a potential general election rival: Hillary Clinton.
Using this week's renewed uproar over last September's Benghazi attack, Paul hammered Clinton for what he described as a woeful response to the siege of a diplomatic post that left four Americans dead. He was speaking at the Iowa GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids, his first stop in a tour of early voting states.
"It was inexcusable, it was a dereliction of duty, and it should preclude her from holding higher office," Paul said, recycling a line he's used frequently to describe Clinton's actions on Benghazi, including in an editorial in Friday's Washington Times.
He gave CNN's Erin Burnett a similar assessment of Clinton's response on Thursday.
"The person who made that decision should never be in place or a position to make that decision again," he told Burnett. "I stand by that."
Paul also told Clinton herself during a Senate hearing he would have "relieved you of your post" had he been president at the time of the attack.
The Kentucky Republican, who has not denied having aspirations of higher office, took particular offense at Clinton's admission that she had not read every diplomatic cable that came from the American embassy in Libya.
"She was asked repeatedly whether she read the cables, whether she read the requests for help. And she said no, I'm busy, had lots of cables," Paul said. "And I say I don't expect you to read every cable from Estonia or Bulgaria. But I do expect you, from one of the five most dangerous countries in the world, to be reading the cables."
His well received speech to the Iowa Republicans also delved into comprehensive immigration reform, which Paul said he supported. He does not, however, endorse the current legislation in Congress, saying its cap on work visas was problematic.
"We're going in wrong direction instead of the right direction," he said of the current bill, which was crafted by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight."
"I am going to try and fix it," he added.
Republicans as a whole need to embrace fixing immigration, Paul said, not only because the current system is broken but because potential voters support a change.
"I think as a party we need to grow bigger. We need to attract the Latino vote. We have to attract the African American vote," he said, encouraging Republicans to "treat immigrants with dignity and respect."
"We need to reach out to other people who don't look like us, don't wear the same clothes, that aren't exactly who we are," he told the mostly white crowd.
No use RP, you wont get elected in 2016 no matter what you say !
Americans civil right's being taken away! Outrageous!
I like Randal Paul.
He is so much more honest ad sincere when he speaks.
Hillary should account for this.
Rand Paul's budget that balances in 5 years earns my vote.
Rand Paul makes a lot of sense.
Rand Paul is inexcusable. What used to be an embarrassment to the people of Kentucky,
has now been forced onto the rest of America as a total embeparrassment.
What went wrong with this guy ?
I'm sure Rand will be going to visit Israel next week , then South Korea , after that Disneyland to say hi to Mickey .
Blame , Blame , Blame , this guy has never known what responsibility is , nor what it takes to lead .
Texas fertiliser plant blast: Criminal probe launched.
Did Rand Paul ever mention deregulation ?
Rand Paul / Rick Perry 2016
We will get to the bottom of this .
Look at his face... No... really look at his face... He's detached and crazy like some tramp screaming at cars on the freeway. He's lost it. He heard too much ranting from Ron and saw too many wild-eyed crazies scream about liberals, and coloreds, and Mexicans, and theives – oh my! (think OZ) He's nuttier than squirell droppings.
I am still trying to figure out how stupid the people of KY are to give you and that racist crazy senator votes.
You are a racist YIU don't care about people who are not whte like you and as far as what you would do if you were president it's NEVER going to happen so dream on you crazy fool.
Hillary said it best when answering your supposedly fiction story with one word turkey(?) except a turkey has a brain!
Please Hillary respond to this IDIOT....
Bark, bark, bark... They died of smoke inhalation and NO one would have gotten there fast enough to save them. The foreign service is dangerous duty and the people entering it know it. But keep slinging your mud little boy. You absolutely must keep the fools who already voted for you once outraged enough for them to overlook YOUR numerous shortcomings and do it again. It won't be enough nationally....
GI Joe in the U.S.A. calls Ron Paul's son "inexcusable".
Paul's stance on civil liberties should preclude him from office. Oh yes..........he all for it as long as he can still decide which color of individuals he allows in his business. His stances are what are inexcuable in any "free" political arena. Fascism is alive and well and he appears to wear its banner proudly. Totally disgusting. Not fit to serve in any elected office. He makes "Socialism" actually sound pretty acceptable.
Let's see, a conservative wacko who is planning to run for President in 2016 is outraged over the alleged (but not really proven) actions of a likely opponent? Tell me this isn't a witch hunt.
what is his thoughts on wmds and the Iraq and afgan wars
Libertarians are a bunch of whiny children who only care about themselves, wrapping their selfishness in the American flag and "freedom".
They have no understanding of what creates a civil society. They should all go live in Somalia where there is no pesky government to "infringe" on their rights – or perhaps India, where their is no income tax, so they can enjoy firsthand their lovely infrastructure. Better yet, go to Bangladesh and work in a garment factory, where the owners are more concerned about profits than people.
Only in America is stupidity seen as a virture, and gallantly clung too.
Rand Paul is not quite real young, but he is not old either. I was expecting a guy like his age should understand how politics works nowadays. The old fashion of bashing the other side without coming up with new ideas have long time gone. We are living at modern times with modern techniques, where each and every individual is well informed in a matter of seconds what is going on in our daily lives. The tactics Rand Paul is using, is an old fashion back to the 50's and backwards. Boy, you are not going to win, if you continue to apply this out-of-date method. Come up with new ideas if at all you have any!
What a jerk. We all know this is a witch hunt. Please go away Rand, you are not fit to be in the same room as Secretary Clinton.
@Marie MD,have you figured out the most delushional ,unattached idiots going right now and both are from Kentucky !!And is there more inbreeding than we're being told with Rand and his mentor McConnell because they're both really out there and these idiots in republicans just adore them..Boy is that a hilarious following or what!!
Rand Paul thinks that Benghazi should preclude Clinton from holding higher office; this is clearly political and he doesn't believe it for a second since there are a huge number of politicians of both sides that have done worse. Even he isn't totally honest, since he asserted he was a board-certified ophthalmologist, yet the board was one he created and headed. Such rather misleading, dishonest characterization should preclude him from holding higher office.
As if HIS position on using drones to attack US citizens IS EXCUSABLE?
Hilliary Rodham and Clinton = Rand Paul's Nighmare. Go Hilliary Go. A female President in 2016 for USA. Hilliary has all the women running her down to RUN, RUN, RUN!!!!!!
Rand sure has a past that would cause one to question how he has any credibility.
Rand Paul is a nasty, smirking brat whose highest professional position would have been night manager at a Kentucky Dennys if he hadn't had a famous daddy.