Davenport, Iowa (CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul tried to clarify his position Tuesday on U.S. foreign aid to Israel, saying he strongly supports sending money to the country but added he believes Israel will be better off without foreign assistance in the long run.
“I've spent the last four years trying to put conditions on aid to people who hate us and burn our flag,” the Kentucky Republican said. “I've also talked about that every country ultimately would be better off to be independent.”
On Monday, Paul said he had never proposed phasing out Israel’s foreign aid, even though he has introduced legislation that would end all foreign aid to certain Middle East countries, including assistance to Israel.
His comments have become a large storyline this week as Paul, a likely 2016 presidential contender, travels across Iowa, the first state that holds nominating contests in presidential election years.
After touring the headquarters of Von Maur, a department chain, in Davenport, Iowa on Tuesday, Paul answered follow-up questions about his comments the day prior, emphasizing that he never introduced legislation that singled out Israel.
“I've also had several budgets since then that actually don't completely zero it out, and would allow Israel to continue to have foreign aid,” he told reporters.
“I've always said that my position is similar to (Benjamin) Netanyahu's position. It ultimately for Israel would be even better if they were completely independent. But I haven't proposed targeting, or eliminating any aid to Israel,” he added.
He also noted that he had recently proposed ending aid to the Palestinians if they continue to align with Hamas, and that he’s called on halting assistance to Pakistan for a record of targeting Christians.