In a speech at the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) cracked a joke at Democrats’ expense that’s sure to rile up his political opponents.
“Mr. President, you love to trade people,” Paul said, according to Politico. “Why don’t we set up a trade? But this time, instead of five Taliban, how about five Democrats? I’m thinking John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi…”
The crowd reportedly erupted in cheers.
Sen. Paul was referring to the Obama administration’s controversial decision to release five members of the Taliban from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. He was also clearly not serious.
“I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been a little bit annoyed with the president,” Paul said. “Releasing five Taliban senior officials is not only against the law, it’s illegal and wrong and he should never have done it,” he told the audience.
When he was later asked about the comments during a news conference, Paul reiterated that he was only joking about trading Democrats. He also included a joke in his explanation of his previous joke.
“It was a joke. Except for Nancy Pelosi, I was serious about her,” he said, later adding, “Well, I mean, it’s humor, and I hope there’s room for humor. I thought it was funny. It was meant to be humorous.”
Not everyone saw the humor. There was plenty of outrage over the joke on Twitter, with at least one user suggesting he was comparing Democrats to the Taliban.
@SenRandPaul Are you comparing Democrats to the Taliban?
— Zev Palatnik (@ZPalatnik) June 6, 2014
@SenRandPaul I would expect this garbage out of Rush Limbaugh but not a US SENATOR of any party.
— Jack Straw (@J_Straw_KS) June 6, 2014
@SenRandPaul Poor enough taste?
— Cillian (@Bittathat) June 6, 2014
@SenRandPaul you're an idiot
— Jeremy Smith (@theotherjsmith) June 6, 2014
@SenRandPaul this is not funny
— Phil (@ActuallyPJH) June 6, 2014