March 7th, 2013
01:50 PM ET
1 year ago

Rand Paul on filibuster: 'We had no plan'

(CNN) – The decision to take to the Senate floor with questions on drones was a last minute one, Sen. Rand Paul explained in an exclusive interview with CNN Thursday, detailing how he wasn't totally prepared to remain standing for thirteen hours straight.

"We had no plan and I had the wrong shoes on, my feet were hurting the whole day," Paul told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, adding that since the Senate leadership typically decides who speaks on the Senate floor, it's often difficult to begin a traditional filibuster.

"One of the reasons filibusters don't occur is because they carefully guard the floor from letting it happen. And it was left unguarded," he said.

His voice was still recovering from his epic floor remarks, Paul said, though he got a break from a bevy of Republican senators (and one Democrat) who joined in during the day. And he speculated he may have "lost a few pounds" by only eating an occasional candy bar – which cameras caught him noshing on throughout the day.

"There's a candy drawer, and if you go to the candy drawer, you can sneak around and get a candy bar," he said. "But I see you caught me with half the candy bar in and half out of my mouth. My wife said can't you chew with your mouth closed on the floor?"

The grueling conditions are all part of the rules of a traditional filibuster, which Paul admitted were demanding.

"It's not easy. My feet were hurting by the end of the day. You can't leave the floor and you can't sit down. So you can't use the restroom or do anything like that," he said, admitting the staff in the chamber are often more knowledgeable about restrictions than lawmakers themselves.

One of his tips? "I decided to drink very little water and have no caffeine."

Paul hasn't been without his Republican critics, including the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, which Thursday urged him to "calm down."

"The U.S. government cannot randomly target American citizens on U.S. soil or anywhere else," the paper's editorial read.

"The Wall Street Journal is right on a lot of issues and they're wrong on this issue," Paul responded in his CNN interview. "The problem is if I call you an enemy combatant, how do we know if you are or aren't? That's just me calling you and accusing you of a crime."

"Should there be enough power by any politician, Republican or Democrat, to just say you're an enemy combatant and a hellfire missile drops on your house?" he asked. "That's what they're saying. With every fiber of my body, I believe that's unjust and unconstitutional."

Paul revealed the White House had reached out to his office, though the Kentucky Republican didn't offer additional details of his communication with the Obama administration.

Later Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter responding to Paul's questions about the legality of drone strikes against United States citizens.

The letter, Carney said, addressed the question about whether the president has the authority to use a drone loaded with a weapon to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil.

Reading from the letter, Carney said "the answer is no."

At 1:15 p.m. ET, Carney said the letter was sent to Paul "within the last half hour or so."

Speaking afterwards on CNN, Paul said he was satisfied with the response.

"I'm quite happy with the answer," the senator from Kentucky said on CNN. "I'm disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it, but we did get the answer."

In his interview, Paul speculated that Obama and he could have more in common on the issue than it may appear.

"When Barack Obama was a senator, I think he would have been standing with me last night," Paul said. "I think he, like [Democratic Sen. Ron] Wyden, would have come to the floor and supported me yesterday. I think he's either forgotten or needs to be more explicit in what his beliefs are."

CNN's Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • Rand Paul
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Another gop loser who will will never be president be president !!!!!

    March 7, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  2. J Russ

    hard to argue with the idea that the President can't murder American citizens on American soil without charges or conviction

    March 7, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. robert jay

    What a publicity stunt and more Senate stupidity. First who is Rand paul to singlehandidly question anyone about CIA work? If Rand Paul needed questions answered make an appointment – ask your questions and move on with the majority! When did this crap opf 1-2 or 3 peopel becoming more important than the majority and our country become haute courture and accepatble? Some you win and some you lose – get over it and move on!I would think a Senator of all peopel would be at a level to understand that! Then of course he is a Republican!

    March 7, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Rand Paul needs to stop grandstanding and accept the fact that the concept of "enemy combatants" was created by the Bush administration specifically for the purpose of denying an "enemy of the state" certain rights.

    March 7, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    J Russ wrote:

    hard to argue with the idea that the President can't murder American citizens on American soil without charges or conviction
    -----------
    Wanna bet? You need to read the fine print in some of our laws, especially stuff that came out of the Bush administration. The POTUS has exceptional lattitude to do whatever is required in the interests of national security. You can even some of it buried within the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    March 7, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh. Did Aqua Buddha put himself on hiatus? Or does he plan on holding Congress hostage for a few more childish Mr. Smith Goes To Washington meltdowns whenever his donor dollars stop flowing in?

    March 7, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. Chipster

    There appears to be serious misconceptions about the U.S. drone policy. Anyone, American or not, who is attending a gathering of terrorists in a foreign country, is at risk of being in a strike zone. Intelligence agencies are not able to identity whether that person is a terrorist or "collateral damage." Sure, that's harsh but terrorists have a habit of hiding behind civilians so how would you recommend pursuing them? "Come out with your hands up" is not an effective anti-terrorism policy. On American soil, the policy is to arrest Americans who collude with known terrorists unless they are an immediate threat. If someone is an immediate threat, law enforcement will take them out whether they are terrorists or other dangerous criminal. It's unfortunate but terrorists (American or foreign) are not likely to surrender. There is nothing unconstitutional about taking down someone who is an immediate threat to others, by drone or any other weapon. Much of what Paul complained about in his filibuster was not a matter of policy. It was his misconception of policies.

    March 7, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. Sharif

    If there's a filibuster, this is how it should be done. And Robert J, to answer your question, he's an elected official. He has all the right to question the CIA.

    And I vote Democrat.

    March 7, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  9. Country Above Parties

    Republican not only move goal post, they moved the entire stadium. At least WH reached out to this ranting lunatic. Can you imagine if any dems had done this dureing Bush years,.. there woudl have been laughing. This whole things about using drone against American was blown out of propotion (as they always do). Yet, enemy combatants was first created under Bush and it only apply to American with Muslim sounding names. Get real.

    March 7, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. Poon T

    REALLY? You're okay with drones flying over your town and taking you out from the air? Lemme guess you're against waterboarding but FOR this. Yeah, Mr. Prez .... you're hip, you're cool .... we're down with it – you don't need to explain anything. Ideolog much?

    March 7, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Chipster

    @J Russ
    "hard to argue with the idea that the President can't murder American citizens on American soil without charges or conviction"
    No one is making that argument and that is not the policy. Rand is misinformed. On American soil, criminals (terrorists or otherwise) risk being killed by law enforcement or federal authorities if they create an immediate threat to others. If they are suspects (not an immediate threat), they may be arrested and handled through the legal system. That was and is the policy. On foreign soil, we don't have the luxury of arresting terrorists but we must pursue them. Americans who are among a group of terrorists may be a traitor or an unfortunate bystander. Americans overseas, be aware of the risk and be careful of the company you keep.

    March 7, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  12. Elise

    What's cracking me up is that this is being made into a bi-partisan issue. Rand Paul is under the republican card but he is a Libertarian. The entire stance of the Libertarian party, and HIM is that the government is too big and too powerful and needs to be regulated and put back under the control of the citizens. Seems to me like something every american can agree with regardless of party. He isn't attacking Obama, he isn't being racist, he's saying "hey if your proposed CIA director is so pro-drone now is the time we write some policies so the government knows how far it can go with it." Do I trust Obama to not send drones to mace peaceful protests on wall street? Maybe – do I trust every president in the future? NO! Since when did liberals become so trusting of the government anyway?

    March 7, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. Hammerer

    You better believe this president will kill American citizens. What do you think the 2,7000 and 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition that DHS has stockpiled is for?

    March 7, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Ghoti

    I really don't get some of the comments on here. Rand Paul criticized Bush for his role in this several times last night. But that's not really the point. Disregarding party affiliation, the left/right spectrum, who the president is or who started what, the question is this: should the federal government be able to target non-combatant US citizens on American soil without due process? It's really quite simple.

    March 7, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Pam from Iowa

    his rantings had nothing to do with drone strikes!
    He was stalling on a confirmation.
    Read the story first folks!!!
    This guy could care less about drones killing innocent Americans!!!

    March 7, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Ghoti asked:

    ..............the question is this: should the federal government be able to target non-combatant US citizens on American soil without due process? It's really quite simple.
    ---------–
    The question is simply ignorant and retarded. He's really asking is will the government attack and kill innocent couples out for a Sunday stroll in the park. He's looking for promises and assurances that none of the ridiculous conspiracy theories that he's heard about don't come to bear.

    Remember, this is the same guy who had asked Hillary Clinton about gun running through Turkey, which was story that began life as a satirical joke. Paul thought that it was serious becausee it fit his belief systems.

    March 7, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Anon

    @chipster: read the transcript of the first hour of his speech. He is not misinformed and speaks to your points. Please kind sir, read what he said in full instead of basing your judgement off a soundbite.

    March 7, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. PJ

    "Rand Paul says he's heard from the White House"
    --
    He also "heard" from McCain and Graham. They took him down by criticizing what he said, why he said it,
    and let him know "it served no purpose". Good for them. I was surprised, and glad I saw it or I wouldn't
    have believed it. They actually defended the President.

    March 7, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    I find it ironic in the extreme that the same person who feels that the Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional, could somehow justify himself to stand up on the Senate floor and filibuster in the name of personal civil liberties.

    March 7, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. Ghoti

    @Rudy NYC, I'll pose the question again: Disregarding party affiliation, the left/right spectrum, who the president is or who started what, the question is this: should the federal government be able to target non-combatant US citizens on American soil without due process?

    March 7, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Larry L

    @J Russ

    hard to argue with the idea that the President can't murder American citizens on American soil without charges or conviction
    ========================================
    Rand is a radical and a fool. "Murdering" anybody is unlawful and the question reflects Rand's hatred for the government of the United States of America. I will point out that Bush and Cheney purposefully cherry-picked false intelligence data to start a war with Iraq – a war in which over 4,500 American Service-members died. It's delusional to pretend it was a "mistake". They faced no charges or certainly not any convictions.

    March 7, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Peace

    What troubles me is: When the drones were used on what Rand Paul call killed Americans, Rand Paul was around and didn't say anything. Suppose there was no nomination of John Brennan, could that have been OK for Rand Paul to continue keeping quiet?? Why didn't he say then if at all he cares?

    March 7, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. JC

    This power to kill without due process has to be restrained. Didn't the Obama administration want due process for non-citizens detained for accused terrorism? Yet when it's hypothetically possibly to have an American citizen on U.S. soil killed without question, there is silence. Imminent threats are already dealt with by force, this is not the issue. Let's say in the future a President will do anything to further his political agenda, and there's an uprising of concerned Americans who become a "threat" to pushing the agenda forward. Throw in some successful propaganda and a media on the side of the government, and you'll have support to have these "dangerous Americans" killed in no time. All in the name of doing what they, the government, say is"right" for you.

    March 7, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Anon

    @chipster: read the transcript of the first hour of his speech. He is not misinformed and speaks to your points. Please kind sir, read what he said in full instead of basing your judgement off a soundbite.
    ---------------------
    If Rand Paul had said anything that was cogent and coherent, then why didn't you clue us in on it? You know, at least drop a hint or two about what he was talking about. The entire fili-bluster was simply grandstand posturing for the sake of burnishing his bona fides.... or so he thinks. It was all a mind trick, which only work on the weak minded.

    March 7, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. Ghoti

    @J Russ You stated: Rand is a radical and a fool. "Murdering" anybody is unlawful

    This is untrue. First of all, murder is a state offense, not a federal one. This an important distinction you must understand. Secondly, Eric Holder refused to say if the federal government could use drones to kill Americans without due process. Why won't the administration just answer the question in writing?

    March 7, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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