March 7th, 2013
01:50 PM ET
10 years 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. Jon in Pittsburgh

    So,,,,you got up and said something for 13hours...It is probably the most work that you have done this year. You took a week off and came back to work with 4 days left before the great sesquation and did nothing then. Now you want answers on a far out chance that an American would be persude on American soil? Instead of wasteing OUR time on theories and yes I said OUR time, because you are supposed to work for your fellow AMERICANS, not special interest. How about getting the rest of your "gang" and get to work to get our country back to greatness. Work with the POTUS that was elected by the people and work for the people. You guys are idiots...

    March 7, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC


    @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?
    Of course, not. Should ignorant Senators be allowed to torture us with their ridiculous belief systems and false conspiracy theories on the floor of the US Senate? Of course, they should be allowed. It's called a teachable moment. He taught a lot of us just how cracy and extreme the man truly is.

    March 7, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. sifto

    funny how the libs are against waterboarding and gitmo–then approve of Obama's right to kill at will....

    March 7, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    PJ wrote:

    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.
    You are mistaken. They were defending the already severely tarnished image of the Republican Party. Ask yourself this. Do you think they would have said the same things had Rand Paul been a Democrat.

    March 7, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. ART

    Why do we have these do nothing morons in our government? Rand Paul is a joke just like that hair on his head

    March 7, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. Ghoti

    @Jon in Pittsburgh All the president has to do is answer the question. It's a legitimate one that should take 2 seconds to answer. People sound like fools for defending the president on this. By the way, it's spelled "wasting" not "wasteing".

    March 7, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. ikihi

    rand paul 2016

    March 7, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Ghoti

    @Art Are you seriously making fun of his hair instead of asking why the president won't answer the question?

    March 7, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Republicans; the "Not Intended to be Factually Accurate" Party

    In principle, many of the "Libertarian" principles appeal to all Americans. By Rand Paul standing for a TRUE fillibuster, he perhaps raises the bar for obstructionism and I`m sure other republicans resent him for that. Americans will notice that Paul had the stones to have the spotlight on his obstructionism.

    It will serve to elevate Paul`s standing as a candidate in 2016 and in so doing will pull the GOP toward expressing a POV on substance even if the substance doesn`t stand up to intellectual scrutiny. It`s NO but with an explaination.

    March 7, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. hate to have voted republican

    Glad i voted and contributed to a democrat.

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


    @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?
    He wrote that murder is "unlawful", not a "federal one". Rand Paul asked for a guarantee that the federal government would *never* use drones within our borders. Holder did his polite best not to ridicule the man for asking such an absurd question. You can never what the future holds.

    In Rand Paul's mind, if a terrorist group set up training camp and headquarters in Midville, USA and began launching attacks, then he wants a guarantee that the federal government will not launch drones to attack them. The entire narrative plays directly into the hands of extremist, armed militia, hate groups that have been springing up by the hundreds since 2008.

    March 7, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Jim

    Those who claim to be Democrats (as I do) are embarrassing themselves and others when speaking out against Rand Paul in this instance.

    Ask yourself if you will be comfortable with Dick Cheney or any other Republican who claims this ability for the President. If George Bush had claimed this openly, Democrats would have had a heart attack.

    It is unconstitutional for the government to kill on American soil without due process; whether or not the person is a citizen or not.

    Democrats used to believe this.

    I have no use for much of Rand Paul's policy ideas at all. I think most are seriously damaging to what I believe to be right and fair. But in this instance he is acting heroically and the Obama Administration (which I happily voted for) is embarrassing itself for not only failing to discredit the Bush Administration's Presidential power grabs, but extending the reach of them into places that I never would have thought possible.

    This is not about Republican vs. Democrat.

    This is about our right to live as human beings without fear of death for our political beliefs. Period.

    March 7, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. CNeder

    I can imagine that conversation. . . "Uhhhhh Senator Ron? Uhhhhh this is uhhhh Presidente Obama. Uhhhhhh we will strike you with uhhhhhh a drone."

    March 7, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. americandream

    Al Qaeda spokeman Abu Ghaith caught!! Terrorists have a new champion and spokesperson: Rand Paul.

    March 7, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Bill Stapp

    So can I water board someone and if that gives me the name of someone else who is going to commit a terrorist act, can I then order a drone strike to kill him and those around him....and if turns out to be a mistake do I apologize on national TV?

    March 7, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. americandream

    Speaking of spending cuts and waste of tax-payer resources, the person "fighting" for it is himself the perpetrator. Shame on Rand Paul.

    March 7, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. Brian

    Some of you people make me sick. For one, the filibuster is an extremely important tool in politics. We seem to be in an era where politicians are expected to just pass what's on the table. That's how terrible legislation gets passed. People who raise concerns are silenced, and deemed as insane or unamerican.

    Fact is, it should concern all of you whether the president thinks he had the power to order strikes on Americans on American soil. We have a system of checks and balance for a reason. Congress should be checking the power of the president. And congress should be making sure the president has no authority to order drone strikes on American soil except in cases of imminent attack.

    March 7, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Ghoti

    @Rudy NYC by answering "of course not", you just did something that the president will not do. Don't you think that's strange?

    March 7, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. Discouraged Bystupdity

    Politicians are demandinding more and more power in the name fear, it is getting absolutely absurd. The want to use drones on American citizens, while at the same time asking for Americans to demonize their fellow gun owning neighbors. It seems the only thing both Bush an Obama have in common is their desire for unaccountable power.

    March 7, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. 9hydra

    I'm a liberal Democrat and I 100% support this position by Rand Paul. Good for him to stand up for due process and the Constitution on this issue. I'll still disagree with him on other issues, such as fiscal policy, but on this matter I'm completely behind him. Thank you Senator Paul for bringing this issue up for debate. We've been ignoring Obama's continuation of NeoCon military policies for way too long.

    March 7, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. WV Gleeman

    The part I cannot fathom is why people think this can be used to kill anyone the government wants dead. The hyperbole is the the POTUS can say someone is a terrorist or enemy of the state and have that person killed(in this case by a drone) and then there is this believe that the ENTIRE US government and all agencies involved in this will go along and there will be no repercussions. I have a hard time believing there are some who think this is possible. This says nothing of the fact that an order of this magnitude would not be thoroughly vetted by a large number of people through many agencies before given. Just doesn't seem logical there is this much fear.

    March 7, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. 9hydra

    I'm a liberal Democrat and I agree with Senator Rand 100%. I think these Obama policies, continuing the old Bush NeoCon policies, have gone on for too long with no one paying them any attention. It's about time people started talking about these gray areas.

    March 7, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Hey Mr. Paul, can you please tell us where the WMDs are? And what about those 5,000 pound DRONES, I mean bombs that the Bush administration dropped on Baghdad in 2003 and beyond without due process? What about the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, men, women and children we targeted for a decade without due process and then referred to as collateral damage??? Where are the hearings about the blatant and outrageous lies told to the UN, the world community and the American people to sell this illegitimate and unjust war??? Please Sir, where are the WMDs???

    March 7, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Yeoomala

    Nothing like a politician talking for 13 hours and saying nothing. It matches their IQ score. Now if only they would actually do something useful, the country might get back on track. I know – I'm asking way too much out of these immature spoiled brats.

    March 7, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. EveT

    Apart from the fact that I too have concerns about drone warfare and targeted assassinations, I thought it was wonderfully refreshing to see a bona fide filibuster. Doesn't change the fact that - as my dad used to say - I wouldn't vote for Rand Paul for dogcatcher, but bravo to him on this particular occasion.

    March 7, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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