MANCHESTER – While some Republican candidates call for expanding the party’s proverbial tent to include moderates, and others talk about rallying the base, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says it is time for the GOP to do both, and that he has the ability to make it succeed.
In the last two presidential elections, the Republican nominees had neither conservative nor inclusive messages, Paul told the New Hampshire Journal in an interview on Friday at the high-tech firm Dyn.
“If you want to win, everything has to work, and that means you have to be conservative and excite the base, but then also have issues where you go beyond that,” said Paul. “People think it’s an ‘either-or.’
“They think, ‘I’m just going to be a fire-breathing, right-winger and I’m going to excite the base. But then they forget about the rest of the audience that you do have to win in the general election,” he said. “Some start out so moderate in the Republican primary that they are already in the mushy middle.
“I think you can be a good strong conservative and then take liberty message to the people without compromising that message.”
Paul spoke to a group of employees at Dyn’s Millyard headquarters, conveying that he agreed with Thomas Paine that government is a “necessary evil.”
Rand Paul at Dyn in Manchester’s Millyard
“There are things that have to be done in Washington,” he said, “but we don’t want everything to be done in Washington. We want the smallest amount we can get to maximize our liberty.” Besides that “liberty argument,” he said, there is a pragmatic “efficiency argument.”
“Spending only what comes in, some look at as a radical notion,” he said, noting that if $18 trillion, the national debt, were stacked in $1,000 bills on top of each other, “it would reach well past the moon.”
“You always have to have government, but you should always try to minimize government so you maximize the productive sector,” said Paul.
Paul returned to the state Friday and will also be here on Saturday, less than three weeks ahead of what is expected to be a formal announcement of a presidential candidacy on April 7 in his home state. As the New Hampshire Journal has reported, his supporters in New Hampshire have been advised to save the date of April 8 for a return visit by Paul, presumably for a leg of what has been reported to be an announcement tour that will also take him to Iowa, South Carolina and other states.
Paul would not hint what his plans are, although they have been widely reported, and said only “we are going to be back here in a couple of weeks and will be making our final decision.”
Paul arrived the day after his PAC announced the hiring of veteran GOP operative David Chesley as its New Hampshire political director and Manchester Republican Committee Chairman Tammy Simmons as its New Hampshire director of operations.
Mike Biundo of Manchester, New England chief strategist and national senior adviser for the PAC, is expected to oversee New Hampshire operations as part of his broader role.
At Dyn, Paul talked in the interview about what he believes is his appeal.
“I’ve spent about two years talking about issues and going to groups that really haven’t been natural constituency for the Republican Party,” he said, “whether that’s African-American audiences at Howard (University) or Bowie State (University in Maryland) or Simmons College in Louisville, or the Urban League, NAACP, Ferguson, Detroit, Chicago.
“But I’ve also been in places like Berkeley and colleges that haven’t traditionally been going our way, either,” Paul said. “I’m a believer that if you have a sincere message and you show up and you explain we’re not just the party of the Second Amendment, but we’re also the party of Fifth Amendment, the party of the Sixth Amendment, the party of the Fourth Amendment. To me, it’s really about bringing the Bill of Rights together and also bringing liberty together.”
He said that while some view the Democrats as being “better at” the First Amendment, and others viewed the GOP as the party of economic freedom, “If you bring both of those together, I think there is a way that people can see that the defense of the Bill of Rights helps people from all different walks of life.”
Paul said he has always believed in a “liberty message,” but he said his approach “also reaches young people. There are a lot of people in our country who aren’t being treated properly by criminal justice – many of them are African American, many are Hispanic, many are poor. If we become the party that believes in the Second Amendment as well as the Fourth Amendment, then I think we become a bigger party.”
The Republican Party, in the last two presidential elections, “missed on every aspect of that spectrum,” he said. “For example, the conservative message that Ronald Reagan ran on was cutting taxes. Neither of our last two nominees were for cutting taxes. They were for revenue-neutral tax reform, and I always sort of laughingly say, ‘If that’s what we’re for, I’m going home.’ Will anyone ever knock on a door for you if that’s what you’re for – revenue-neutral tax reform?
“Most people are for tax cuts and for making government smaller. That excites the base, and the other things we will talk about, liberty issues, don’t dilute any of that. They just add on to that,” he said.
If Paul runs, as is expected, he would enter the race with the strongest ground operation among prospective candidate in New Hampshire. Not only does he have some remaining support from those who backed his father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, in the 2012 campaign, but Biundo was the first operative to sign on to a prospective candidate’s leadership PAC, last July and has been working to organize a grassroots operation since that time.
Paul was headed to North Conway for a Friday night appearance keynoting the Carroll County Lincoln Day dinner and was planning to return to southern New Hampshire tomorrow for several retail stops.
In North Conway, Paul was expected to call on Hillary Clinton to return Clinton Foundation money to countries that abuse the rights of women., including Saudi Arabia.
The Democratic National Committee responded that Paul “has a deplorable record on issues important to women and their families” and was merely trying to “land headlines.”
Paul said it is now clear that President Obama will not attempt to bring a nuclear weapons agreement with Iran to the Congress, but will instead try to go to the United Nations and will veto legislation that requiring congressional approval.
“Many of us feel that he doesn’t then believe he has to have a deal that’s acceptable,” Paul said. “But we are the people who won the election in 2014.
“But it’s not the first time. It’s a consistent pattern. He doesn’t care what we think on health care – he amends the law on his own. He doesn’t care what we think on immigration – he amends the law on his own. He doesn’t care what we think on war. He goes to war without permission.
“Now he’s going to make a foreign agreement without any permission, even though the law that ought to be changed is a law. The sanctions are law,” said Paul.
Paul joined with 46 other GOP senators in signing a letter to Iranian leaders pointing out that any agreement must be approved by Congress.
He said that while he supports negotiations, “I’m also a stickler for the Constitution,” and, “I want the President to be negotiating from a position of strength.
“I want the President to be able to go to the Iranians and say, ‘Congress is going to have to vote on this because Congress put these sanctions in place and so you are going to have to give up more because Congress is not going to be excited with you having 15,000 centrifuges and continuing an ambitious nuclear program.”
He said he believes that ultimately, only “boots on the ground” will defeat ISIS, “but I don’t mean American boots. I mean Arab boots on the ground. If they’re not willing to fight for those cities, then I’m not willing to send Americans over there to fight for them.”
On the economy, Paul said he would “dramatically lower taxes” and “stimulate growth in the economy by leaving more money in your wallet, more money in New Hampshire, more money in the states and cities throughout the country.”
He said he would “get rid of departments,” such as the Commerce and Education departments.
“Education is a local function,” he said. “You pay a lot of property taxes for state and local government for your schools. You wouldn’t know it if the Department of Education were gone.”
Paul said immigration remains a point of contention because each side insists on having it entirely its way.
“If we passed bits and pieces of immigration reform,” he said, “I think some of it could be done.”
He said he is working on an amendment with California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer to encourage companies to return their investments to the United States by lowering the corporate tax rate and then using the repatriated tax money to fund a highway bill.
He said he also worked with Democrats on legalizing medical marijuana federally and reform of federal sentencing.
“If some kid gets caught with marijuana or even selling some marijuana, I won’t want to put them in jail for 55 years,” he said.
“When people on the other side are right, I’m proud to work with them,” he said. I’m very conservative. I’m proud of my conservative voting record, but I’m not afraid of working with those on the other side.”
State Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, who backed Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign in New Hampshire, said that while it is too early for him to say who he will back in 2016, “I want somebody who has actually given thought to what’s happening in our country, to what’s happening around the world and if you ask him a question you actually get an answer. You don’t get the same old political double-speak.
“’We have had trouble winning presidential elections coming from the old world establishment side. Rand brings something that can bring us all together,” he said.