MANCHESTER — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Friday that although he believes Barack Obama’s planned military action against the Islamic state will be unconstitutional unless the President first receives congressional approval, there is nothing concerned Republicans can do about it.
Paul said if there were a Republican U.S. Senate, an “authorization for use of force” could be passed, “and that would bind him. Unfortunately, there is a little bit of hesitancy on the part of both parties to do anything.”
And he said that courts typically throw out any constitutional challenge brought by members of Congress.
Paul spoke to the New Hampshire Journal after delivering the keynote speech to about 375 Republicans at the state party’s post-primary “Unity Breakfast” at the Executive Court in Manchester.
There, in a speech that seemed to be a test for an overall presidential election message, he pushed not only for a bigger, broader GOP, but also for more compassionate one. Paul told the Journal he plans to decide on whether to run for President next spring.
He appears headed in that direction.
Paul, in his address to the NHGOP, talked about the value of work, saying, “I frankly think that works should be associated with every last bit of the safety net. Not punishment, but as reward.”
He also called for a more compassionate GOP.
“There are a lot of things we can to grow our party and a lot of it is about attitude and compassion,” Paul said.
“We all have varying degrees of opinion on immigration,” he told the New Hampshire Republicans. “But unless we change our attitude toward immigrants, unless we change our attitude to saying that immigrants are assets, good people, who want to work hard ….we’re not going to change things.
“People think that we don’t’ like African-Americans or Hispanics,” he said. If that perception continues, he said, “we’re never going to win.”
Paul said that while the border is a “disaster,” the overall immigration can be addressed by promoting better access to adoption.
“We need to show a different face,” he said. “We need to show that we’re the party of adoption, we’re the party of kids, we’re the party that wants a lot of these babies. And I think if we do, all of a sudden the party grows greater, bigger and we also put a new face of optimism on things.”
Paul said in the interview and in his speech that the Democrats hurt themselves by proposing and supporting this week a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress and state legislators to override recent Supreme Court decisions that have struck down federal campaign finance laws.
Paul, like many Republicans who opposed the measure on the Senate floor on Thursday, called it an infringement on the First Amendment.
He called it “an extreme idea,” and said, “It should scare us, it should unify us and it should unify all of New Hampshire that someone who has such careless disregard for the Bill of Rights should not be sent to Washington.”
He said later, “I think if that is explained to people, that will worry people, because even some liberals are concerned.”
Paul also called for a re-commitment to privacy.
“I tell conservatives all the time,” he said, “you can’t have the Second Amendment unless you defend the Fourth Amendment….When Republicans defend that, then we’re going to grow the party.”
In the interview, Paul said that “the secular dictators — Gaddafi, Mubarak, Assad and Saddam Hussein – were all opponents of radical Islam, and so if you’re weighing whether or not to get involved in a civil war to topple a secular dictator, somebody who’s in charge ought to be asking, ‘Are we going to be more safe or less safe when that dictator is gone?’”
He said Libya is more chaotic than it was under Gaddafi.
There are Jihadists swimming in our embassy pool, our embassy recently fled from Tripoli – and this came from the President moving forward and saying that we need a new government in Libya. That’s too much intervention.”
A Republican administration threw out Saddam Hussein, he said, “but now you still have chaos in Iraq…If you want to be everywhere involved that’s one extreme, if you want to be nowhere involved that’s another extreme.
“Just because you don’t want to be everywhere doesn’t make you an isolationist,” he said.
Paul disagrees with Obama’s assertion that the nation is safer than it was before he took office, but he said “both parties are partly to blame for why we’re not as safe.”
In Syria, Paul said the United States “put in too many arms,” rather than not enough.
Paul on Friday formally endorsed Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate, but questioned Brown’s plan to strip citizenship from Americans who are fighting alongside ISIS.
“I think there is no question you can remove people’s passports,” Paul said. “If we have proof of it we should put them on a watch list and on a ‘no-fly’ list. They should be on an Interpol list to be arrested anywhere in the world if they’re fighting with ISIS.
“As far as citizenship, the state Department already has some power to do that. There is a legal question of voluntary relinquishment of your citizenship versus not. It doesn’t’ bother me so much taking away citizenship if we can actually show a picture of a guy sitting amidst fighters or fighting in a battle.
“I am concerned that the bill be written that if you live in America and you happen to be sending an email to somebody, we shouldn’t strip you of your citizenship and send you to Guantanamo Bay.”
As for the upcoming election, Paul believes domestic policy will remain a pivotal.
“A lot of people are talking about foreign policy but I’m not sure this changes elections too much,” he said. “I think that for (Sen. Jeanne) Shaheen, the thing that will be and has been a little difficult for her is the big promise that both she and the President made that if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.”