Libertarian-leaning Paul addresses liberal-leaning campus
March 19th, 2014
10:27 AM ET
8 months ago

Libertarian-leaning Paul addresses liberal-leaning campus

Updated 9:30 p.m. ET, 3/19/2014

(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul, who's become known for venturing into unfamiliar territory for Republicans, spoke Wednesday at the liberal hotbed of the University of California at Berkeley.

The Kentucky Republican castigated President Barack Obama for his continued support of the National Security Agency's phone metadata collection, saying the President should know better in part because of his race.

"The first African-American president ought to be a little more conscious of the fact of what has happened with the abuses of domestic spying," Paul said.

"Martin Luther King was spied upon, civil rights leaders were spied upon, Muhammad Ali was spied upon, antiwar protesters were spied upon," he added. "The possibility for abuse in this is incredible. So I don't care if there's never been any evidence of abuse with the (NSA)., they should not be collecting the data."

The domestic data collection program became public after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked the tactic, as well as a hoard of other NSA spying techniques, to the media last year.

In his speech Wednesday at Berkeley, Paul also mentioned the recent controversy surrounding claims that the CIA has been spying on computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee. CIA Director John Brennan responded with a flat-out denial of any wrongdoing.

"I don't know about you, but I'm worried. If the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will stop them? I look into the eyes of senators and I think I see real fear," he said.

"Maybe it's just my imagination, but I think I perceive fear of an intelligence community drunk with power, unrepentant, and uninclined to relinquish power," Paul said. "I am honestly worried and concerned about who is truly in charge of our government. Most of you have read the dystopian nightmares, the dystopian novels and maybe, like me, you doubted that it could ever happen in America."

Paul announced last month he was suing the Obama administration, demanding that the phone metadata collection be declared unconstitutional and put to an end.

The senator fired up a crowd with his unabashed libertarian views and staunch anti-NSA position earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an audience that also voted him as their top pick in CPAC's GOP presidential nomination straw poll.

"If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance," he said on stage. "I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business."

Wednesday's event at Berkeley is already sold out, and while it seems an unlikely place for a Republican to traverse, the San Francisco Bay area campus isn't uncharted territory for the Kentucky senator's family. His father, former Rep. Ron Paul, generated a huge turnout when he visited the school in April, 2012.

The elder Paul developed a cult-like following among university students during his last two presidential campaigns. His positions often bucked the Republican establishment and had crossover appeal to some Democrats on issues involving national security, foreign policy and government overreach.

His son is carrying on that torch of libertarianism, but with a more pragmatic approach that seems to be blazing a wider trail as he considers his own presidential bid.

A recent CNN/ORC International poll shows Paul is at the top of a crowded field of potential Republican presidential candidates, with 16% support among Republicans nationwide. While his father proved to be a formidable competitor in the 2012 GOP primaries, the congressman never found himself at the top of a presidential poll.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, is just one percentage point behind, at 15%, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's considering another bid for the White House, comes in at 11%. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 GOP presidential candidate, is the only other Republican tested in the survey to crack double digits.

Republican Rand Paul: There 'should be a struggle to make the party better'

Paul has been aggressive in calling for a broader GOP in recent months and has taken his message to nontraditional Republican venues, such as historically black colleges. He's also preached his unconventional ideas at GOP gatherings in red states such as Texas and Missouri.

"We need to have people with ties and without ties, with tattoos and without tattoos; with earrings, without earrings," he said at a Republican event in Texas last month. "We need a more diverse party. We need a party that looks like America."

CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Peter Hamby, and Alison Harding contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2016 • California • Rand Paul
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. rs

    Enough is Enough

    @rs – I assume that you are a progressive based on your posts. That being said, what do you see as freedom? A nanny state where everyone is dependent upon the government for everything? It certainly appears, based upon the voting record and behavior of the left, that is what you want and see as freedom. What? Freedom from personal responsibility? Freedom from work (your own party members have touted how Obamacare frees Americans from their present jobs)?
    ___________________________________
    Further:
    Freedom does not mean taking away women's rights; Freedom doesn't mean taking away voters' rights; Freedom doesn't mean enshrining discrimination in law (like Arizona GOP's SB 1062). Freedom isn't just for the rich.

    March 19, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. rs

    Name

    rs,
    Rand Paul voted against the extension of the patriot act
    ______________________
    Meaningless. It was passed by the GOP, and Mr. Paul is a member thereof. The GOP would, in lockstep vote down the USA PATRIOT Act if the President gave an affirming opinion of it. Likewise if the President called for the end of the PATRIOT Act, they'd have a tizzy.See, the GOP simply doesn't believe in anything anymore- just reactionaryism, and obstruction.

    March 19, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Marty

    Right or wrong the American people especially the academic community are not yet ready to hear Rand Paul. The public is still in the "who is John Galt" phase and the academic community is still in the "there needs to be a law" phase. I hope the Senator remains safe.

    March 19, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Gail me

    The only thing the GOP seems to do is try to enact laws to force everyone to be an extremist literalist baptist. What a pity. Used to be a party full of ideas. No longer supporting them. Hate the democrats, but the alternative is a danger to our Republic.
    Each and every time Republicans gain control of any house or chamber in any state or at the federal level, their number 1 priority is to turn the government and the laws of the land into an extremist anti science church.
    No focus on jobs or addressing the massive tax burden on the middle class

    March 19, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Wake up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Sorry Rand, I know you can fool some people but fortunately I'm not one. I don't care if you support voting rights for felons. I don't care if you support the de-criminization of marijuana. What I do care about is the fact that a separationist was on your payroll until about a year ago. What I do care about is you stating if you had been around during the Civil Rights movement, you would have been against it. That's what I'm worrying about and I'm telling every person I know, NOT to vote for you. I would vote for Christy before him, and that will never happen.

    March 19, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. Dead Bear

    Too bad he also believes that what you have in your overseas bank account is none of the government's business either, thus showing his true hypocritical colors.

    March 19, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "Paul has been aggressive in calling for a broader GOP in recent months and has taken his message to nontraditional Republican venues, such as historically black colleges."
    ----------------------------
    He also got up on stage and spoke as if he speaking to group of elementary school students. "Did you know that founders of teh NAACP were Repubicans?"

    Come on, man. "Did you know, Mr. Paul, that everyone is aware of your views concering the Civil Rights Act of 1964?"

    March 19, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. TONE

    I am black and Rand Paul do not like people like me sitting in the same restaurant with white people, he believe that business owners should be able to say that we don't serve black people here, and they are within their rights to do so.

    March 19, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. rs

    Marty

    Right or wrong the American people especially the academic community are not yet ready to hear Rand Paul. The public is still in the "who is John Galt" phase and the academic community is still in the "there needs to be a law" phase. I hope the Senator remains safe.
    ____________________________________
    Please understand- Mr. Paul IS going to Berkeley specifically to interact with the academic community, ergo they are "ready to hear him"- what happens afterwards is entirely up to how persuasive Mr. Paul is. As to his "safety" don't worry- most college campuses are gun-free zones.

    March 19, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    -Marty

    Right or wrong the American people especially the academic community are not yet ready to hear Rand Paul. The public is still in the "who is John Galt" phase and the academic community is still in the "there needs to be a law" phase. I hope the Senator remains safe.
    ************************
    Has it occurred to you that the public has heard Rand Paul, and pronounced their judgment? I guess being confronted with the reality that most people don't buy into your philosophy of selfishness as a virtue is only indicative of how badly you judge human beings.

    March 19, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    The Real Tom Paine wrote:

    "Right or wrong the American people especially the academic community are not yet ready to hear Rand Paul. The public is still in the "who is John Galt" phase and the academic community is still in the "there needs to be a law" phase. I hope the Senator remains safe."

    Has it occurred to you that the public has heard Rand Paul, and pronounced their judgment? I guess being confronted with the reality that most people don't buy into your philosophy of selfishness as a virtue is only indicative of how badly you judge human beings.
    ------------------------
    I'd say it's indicative of how badly you should be judged by other human beings. I think he's more familiar with that concept.

    March 19, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. Matt

    Rand Paul is preaching to a small, shrinking minority, much like the GOP base.

    March 19, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @rs
    Marty

    Right or wrong the American people especially the academic community are not yet ready to hear Rand Paul. The public is still in the "who is John Galt" phase and the academic community is still in the "there needs to be a law" phase. I hope the Senator remains safe.
    ____________________________________
    Please understand- Mr. Paul IS going to Berkeley specifically to interact with the academic community, ergo they are "ready to hear him"- what happens afterwards is entirely up to how persuasive Mr. Paul is. As to his "safety" don't worry- most college campuses are gun-free zones.
    --------------–
    ding ding ding
    We have an infant conspiracy theory.
    "I hope the Senator remains safe." – With no evidence or foundation in fact, we are led to believe the Evil Liberals of Berkeley plan to harm the Senator. 25 points for originality!

    March 19, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Name

    He is going to speak at Berkley ?!

    March 19, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. MaryM

    There is nothing wrong with Libertairans. But the is plenty wrong with Rand Paul!! Especially what he thinks about Civil Rights. Rand Paul is Not Presidential material.

    March 19, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. ChrisM

    If Rand Paul is going to Berkeley, he better study up on his history. The students at Berkeley are smarter than Rand Paul.

    March 19, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Next Randy Paul will be doing a fashion shoot for GQ .

    March 19, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  18. LT

    So,given that Rand is a libertarian I expect him to announce the following any moment: That he is pro gun, pro abortion, pro gay marriage, pro legalization of marijuana, removing all religious ties, such as prayer to open Congress, from the government and that he is for strengthening privacy and 4th and 5th Amendment rights and limiting police power from the federal level to the local sherrif's office.

    March 19, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Some facts to chew on:

    Rant Paul made up a fake organization to give himself a fake credential when he was a doctor (his "organization" was located in his house and his wife was the VP and his father-in-law the secretary.)

    Isn't that special? No one knows what the Rant's made-up organization has for criteria for certifying anyone; maybe all they do is a pinky wave at a picture of Ayn Rand. There's no website for it (I just checked); however, it IS registered with the state of Kentucky as a nonprofit and claims to have certified a few hundred eye doctors (I'm guessing this last bit is a lie).

    Catch that? Rant's organization is a non-profit. So he gets to raise money through it TAX-FREE.

    Poor Rant felt like he was being discriminated against by the REAL organization, so he took his toys, went home and certified himself – all out of thin air.

    Rant Paul is a slimy, lying piece of Kentucky horse ... nothing more and nothing less.

    March 19, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Leftcoastrocky

    Isolationist Rand Paul needs to explain precisely what we should do with the Ukranian situation.

    A Sudetenland approach?

    March 19, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. BC

    "If you like your doctor you can keep him"

    March 19, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. BC

    Obama doesn't have a foreign policy. The world is laughing at us. Putin has crossed every red line Obama made. What a joke.

    March 19, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. emskadittle

    he is just another republican candidate, like his father before him

    March 19, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. Rita

    Ron Paul is the one who promotes fear....if he hates the government & Obama so much, why does he want the job of President? Isn't that a dictatorship? He wants to eliminate EPA, social security (of which I've paid my whole life for), and the Federal Reserve....why? Where was he and especially his dad, when J.Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy spied on everyone ALL the time....and what about his KKK affiliation? He is a pawn of the Koch brothers, billiionaires who don't want to pay their fair share in taxes, a pretender to the throne.....

    March 19, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. Randy, San Francisco

    If Sen Paul receives a warm welcome, he will have to answer to Tea Party social conservatives.

    March 19, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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