Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky told a crowd of social conservatives Wednesday that fighting within the GOP is for the best.
Although Paul pointed out that the debate should not be “impolite” or “rude,” his comments go against what certain Republicans in office have said in the past: That party fighting and vocal disagreement only help Democrats and President Barack Obama.
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“Where are we? People say 'don’t fight, you just have to go along to get along,'” Paul said. “We should fight. We should struggle for what we believe in and try to move the party forward.”
He added, “We have to decide are we going to go bold, are we going to go big, or are we going become Democrat-lite.”
Following his own advice, Paul took shots at certain unnamed Republicans, knocking them for not focusing enough on cutting spending, while touting his own credentials.
Paul’s remarks came at a gala for the American Principles Project, a unique Republican group that bridges the ideas of social conservatives and libertarians, a group Paul identifies with.
The Republican Senator also touched on raising the debt ceiling, a debate that is likely to come up again in Washington because within the next month or so, Congress will be asked to raise the debt ceiling in order to not default on the government’s debts.
“While it may not be a good idea to shut government down, it is also not a good idea to give your government a black check,” he said. “We can’t just keep voting to raise the debt ceiling without any kind of restraint.”
The federal government effectively hits its debt limit on Friday, but through “extraordinary measures,” the Treasury Department has some payment flexibility that extends the need to raise the debt ceiling month or so.
As is the case with most Paul events, presidential speculation came up.
When Sean Fieler, chairman of the group introduced Paul, he proudly proclaimed he be “very pleased if Sen. Paul was elected the next President of the United States.”
Much of Paul’s laugh-line filled speech stayed away from social issues. In the one nod Paul gave to abortion and protecting the right to life, the audience broke out into applause.
Instead, Paul dedicated much of his time addressing economic policy, slashing spending and the future of the Republican Party.
“If we want to win again, if we want to be a bigger party… we have to look more like the rest of America,” Paul said. “But we also have to have a party that has a message of optimism.”