February 10th, 2013
09:59 AM ET
2 years ago

Tea party address won't divide Republicans, Rand Paul says

(CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul's tea party response to Tuesday's State of the Union address isn't intended to drive a wedge through the Republican Party, the Kentucky senator said Sunday.

Paul was tapped by the Tea Party Express to deliver Tuesday's response to President Barack Obama's speech. It's the third year the group has sponsored its own rebuttal to Obama's speech. The official Republican response will be delivered by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who like Paul was elected to the Senate in 2010 with support from the tea party.

Watch CNN's comprehensive coverage of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address starting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV and follow online at CNN.com or via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Follow our real-time State of the Union live blog at cnn.com/conversation.

"I see it as an extra response. I don't see it as necessarily divisive," Paul told chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on the CNN program "State of the Union."

"I won't say anything on there that necessarily is like, 'Marco Rubio is wrong,'" Paul continued. "He and I don't always agree, but this isn't about he and I. This is about the tea party, which is a grass-roots movement, a real movement, with millions of Americans that still are concerned about some of the deal-making that goes on in Washington."

Both Paul and Rubio are considered potential candidates for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, and both their speeches come at a time when national Republicans are debating the best path forward after an electoral trouncing in 2012.

A new group co-founded by veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove will seek to propel the most electable GOP candidates through the primary process in upcoming contests, which some grass-roots Republicans have blasted as a move to make the party more moderate.

Republicans are seeking ways to make themselves more appealing to a wider array of voters after losing among all demographics except white males in November. Rubio, featured on the cover of Time magazine this week as "The Republican Savior," has been a leading voice for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate, which some Republicans have favored after losing big among Latinos.

Paul pushed back Sunday on the notion that Rubio, or any other Republican, has been anointed as the "face" of the Republican Party, making the case that Republican lawmakers sometimes have different priorities.

"I don't think anybody gets to choose who the face is, or say you or someone else is the face. I think we do the best to promote what we believe in," Paul said, pointing to his own vocal opposition to sending U.S. foreign aid money to certain countries like Egypt and Pakistan.

"There are things that distinguish a lot of different Republicans. It doesn't make them bad or me right or them wrong. What it means there is a tea party wing that's interested in not sending money to people who are not acting like our allies," Paul said.


Filed under: Rand Paul
soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. reasonablebe

    Righhhht. and mitt romney's gonna win by a landslide..... people believe what they want, which for some doesn't match with reality, no matter what the overwhelming facts are..... some call this wishful thinking, some call this fantasy.

    February 11, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. NickAnast

    If the Tea Party wants its own response, it should take the next logical step: Form a third party and leave the GOP.

    February 11, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  3. Larry L

    A relevant thrid political party won't come from a nut-job like Rand Paul. Just google his quotes and decide for yourself.

    It's also impossible for a third political party to emerge from the center. It would lack the institutionalized power of the existing systems and maybe more importantly, miss the wildly enthusiastic (irrational?) support from extremists. Moderates from the Democratic and Republican Parties need alliances based on pragmatic solutions, avoiding distractions from carefully sensationalized hot-button issues.

    February 11, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Vince

    I think it's great that Rand Paul is giving a Tea Party response after the official Republican response. The Tea Party has a voice and they should be heard. I think I speak for most Democrats when I say....please please please give this speech Rand :)

    February 11, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  5. Carlin123

    I remember hearing a news correspondent on ABC saying franticly that the "Tea Party" people were crazy, There standing on principle and won't compromise like everyone else. What's wrong with them?

    What's wrong with them? What's wrong with that statement? Is it any wonder this country is drowning in debt?
    I have to live within my means, and so should the government.

    February 11, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. shawski2013

    "I won't say anything on there that necessarily is like, 'Marco Rubio is wrong,'" Paul continued. "He and I don't always agree, but this isn't about he and I. This is about the tea party, which is a grass-roots movement, a real movement, with millions of Americans that still are concerned about some of the deal-making that goes on in Washington."

    THEY ARE BOTH WRONG...

    February 11, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. plain&simple

    The republican party is divided and the tea party is It's own party. They came in on the backs of republicans and real republicans should make tea party candidates run on ballots as tea party only members. Sink or swim on your own and quit using a crutch. Gov. Christie,Huntsman even Jeb Bush see the writing on the wall.

    February 11, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. Jessforthecenter

    "interested in not sending money to people who are not acting like our allies," Thats the only thing i have heard that guy say that I liked.

    February 11, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. al

    I don't really care what the Tea Party thinks any more. They started out with a good idea but have devolved into something that I cannot be part of. Consequently there is nothing Mr. Rand could say that would interest me as far as I know so the chances of me listening tot him are pretty slim.

    February 11, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "One comment said the party was hijacked by extremists. Why so divisive? Does the Democrat party agree on everything? Or do they want: every child to be promiscuous, an abortion for every female, taxes beyond the 40% mark, government spending higher than it is now "leading" the way in production and employment, isolationism leading to seclusion from world affairs, people's peril at the expense of a tree or grass patch, forcing non causal science on people and making their lives harder for it, eliminating religion, suppressing individual freedom for that of the "common good", a populace in reliance upon the government for provision, guidance, willpower, thought, and action? NO? Then it seems that the left has been "hijacked". "

    The only thing hijacked is your conceptualization of what people on the "left" are proposing, etc. There's not a single thing in your list that isn't a gross misrepresentation and mischaracterization of "liberal" positions and it all just constitutes (a) antoher straw man argument and (b) further evidence that conservatives are unwilling to live in reality and address it head-on like the rest of us...even to the point of inventing an alternative to what the "opposition" is actually arguing and promoting so that you have an easier time arguing against them.

    February 11, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. Marie MD

    This third rate politician really thinks he has a chance in heck to be president?
    Mr. we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone? Oh, wait, no, that's a sign from the early 1960s in the South. No, wait, this is what he presently thinks and what he has said while his goons beat up on women. He is from that world where useless racist human beings still live. Maybe he and the mutant from AK can get together and be both dropped in the Arctic! Why waste precious fuel for just one at a time.
    Isn't the Cuban anchor baby Lready doing his thing. Nodding the flake also do this back in 2009? If not her it was somebody with as little influence or brains as this "doctor"!

    February 11, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. VinUSA

    Only one solution: change the constitution to allow representative representation (aka no more gerrymandered districts; you get the proportion of seats based on the % of people who voted for you). That way the Tea Party can be by itself, and it will go the way all extremist right-wing idiotic parties usually go: get stuck at 20% of the vote and be exempt from governing. When people have a real choice, they'll vote for competent government above ideology and there is not a shred of competence in the Tea Party as it is now.

    February 11, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. J Russ

    Barbara, personally I don't care to hear what the president has to say. The state of the union address is not supposed to be a campaigne event.

    February 11, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. Joe

    For it to be divisive some has to pay attention to it.

    February 11, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "One comment said the party was hijacked by extremists. Why so divisive? Does the Democrat party agree on everything? Or do they want: every child to be promiscuous, an abortion for every female, taxes beyond the 40% mark, government spending higher than it is now "leading" the way in production and employment, isolationism leading to seclusion from world affairs, people's peril at the expense of a tree or grass patch, forcing non causal science on people and making their lives harder for it, eliminating religion, suppressing individual freedom for that of the "common good", a populace in reliance upon the government for provision, guidance, willpower, thought, and action? NO? Then it seems that the left has been "hijacked". "

    Not a single thing you listed is anything other than programmed hivemind talking point mischaracterizations of what "liberals" and people on the "left" stand for, are proposing or promoting or would like to see happen in or to this country. It's just further proof that conservatives are so utterluy engrossed in their effort to rewrite reality to fit their preferred narrative and beliefs that you go so far as to reqrite the arguments the "other side" is making so that you have something to argue against...because, let's face it, you have no real solutions or responses to what "liberals" are actually arguing.

    February 11, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. JIM M

    So if there are 2 responses...why don't they create 2 parties?

    February 11, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Niclas

    How can he say its not dividing the GOP, the fact is that they dont even represent 50% of the nation yet still cant even agree on one rebuttle.

    What would be best for both brands is for them to split and form their own paries around their own core vallues which would not only be more fair to voters but to the political system. The democrats left liberal wing needs to saunder off to the green party at the same time creating 4 parties to start with.

    February 11, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  18. Larry L

    If the Tea Party backed Rand Paul the folks in Karl Rove's camp would wet themselves with glee. They'd "swift boat" Paul and wouldn't even need to tell lies. Then Rove could support some pliable, corporate lackey to appeal to the deep-pockets crowd and the neo-cons would be living large... until after the General Election.

    February 11, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. ritmocojo

    And Rubio is going to deliver his rebuttal in Spanish also! Heaven forbid! I thought the righties were all for 'Ingles' only!
    Pander much, anyone?

    February 11, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. Josh from Austin

    Yes, we know that Rand Paul is more Tea Party than Marco Rubio, but I thought Rubio was in the Tea Party. If Rubio's in the Tea Party, then why is Rand Paul giving a Tea Party response?

    February 11, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Joe

    The Tea Party must break off from the GOP. They have already fractionilized the entire Repubican Party. Let the run off with the likes of Rand Paul and his nonsense. All it does it ensures the Dems will hold the house, senate and white house for many years to to come.

    February 11, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. RobertOKUSA

    America *is* a two-party political system and all the extreme, right-wing, religious, racist, homophobic, isolationist, paranoid nut jobs had to all gravitate SOMEWHERE after a *black* man became president! I grew up a Regan Republican, but the Tea Party has crashed my party. Thus, I will continue to vote Democratic until the Republicans return to the political center.

    February 11, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. TomInRochNY

    ". . . What it means there is a tea party wing that's interested in not sending money to people who are not acting like our allies," Paul said.

    So this means we shouldn't give the TPers or Republicans any money?

    February 11, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Daniel

    Why is this all about campaigning?

    February 11, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. nilla

    I thought there was no "tea party movement" or leadership, and that it's really just small, unaffiliated groups with a common ideology? At least, that's what some want you to believe.

    IMO, the movement became cheapened once it started letting politicians (e.g., Michelle Bachmann) become it's voice.

    February 11, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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