Rand Paul: Swap 5 Dems for Marine Held in Mexico: ‘I’m Thinking John Kerry, Hillary …”

June 8, 2014 - 6:39 PM

Rand Paul UC Berkeley

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has a tongue-in-cheek suggestion for President Obama: Negotiate another prisoner exchange, but this time trade five senior Democrats for a U.S. Marine being held in Mexico.

Addressing the GOP convention in Fort Worth, Texas Friday, Paul said a delegate he had been chatting to had said, “There is one guy who is kind of deserving we ought to try to get home, and that’s the Marine who accidentally carried his guns into Mexico.”

“So here’s what I’m thinking: Mr. President, you love to trade people.”

“Why don’t we set up a trade? But this time, instead of five Taliban, how about five Democrats?” Paul said to laughter and applause. “I’m thinking John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi – couldn’t we send them to Mexico?”

Paul was alluding to the controversial swap of five senior Taliban detainees being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier held by the Haqqani network, a terrorist group allied to the Taliban, for five years.

The Marine Corps reservist he was referring to, Andrew Tahmooressi, has been in Mexican custody since the end of March, when he was arrested with three legally-registered firearms in his vehicle.

The 25 year-old, who served two combat tours in Afghanistan and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, has stated that he crossed the border accidentally.

He is being held on weapons charges and several U.S. lawmakers have been urging the administration to do more to get him returned home.

On Thursday State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the administration was “working very hard to discuss with the Mexican authorities the path forward here.”

At a briefing earlier in the week, Harf fielded a question that linked the Tahmooressi and Bergdahl cases.

“Given what just transpired to release Sergeant Bergdahl – again, wouldn’t a phone call from Secretary Kerry to his [Mexican] counterpart – couldn’t this thing be wrapped up quicker?” a reporter asked.

“They are two totally different situations,” she replied. “Are you comparing the Mexican Government to the Taliban?”

“No, I’m saying one would assume that it would be easier to negotiate and talk to the Mexican government than the Taliban,” the reporter said.

“Look, he entered – he reportedly entered Mexico with several weapons and ammunition, circumstances which would normally result in arrest in Mexico. So we are letting the process work itself through,” Harf said. “The Mexican authorities provided prompt notification of his arrest, have allowed regular consular access. We’ll continue working with them.”

Kerry visited Mexico last month, and when asked afterwards about Tahmooressi said he had raised the matter with his hosts.

“We are working on determining whether or not certain evidence that has been presented is meeting the standard that’s necessary to be able to hold that young Marine, and we’re trying to find out exactly what the fact pattern is, but we are working on that,” he told CNN on May 28. “And as recently as last week, I had those discussions with Mexican authorities.”