National Harbor, Maryland (CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul stepped on stage Friday at CPAC-and into his element.
The Kentucky Republican, whose libertarian fight in the Senate is often met with a tepid response, spoke before an audience Friday that treated him like a rock star.
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Wearing blue jeans, a blazer and a red tie, Paul opened up his speech with what could easily be a preamble to a White House campaign.
“Imagine a time when our great country is again governed by the Constitution. Imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty,” he said. “You may think I'm talking about electing Republicans. I'm talking about electing lovers of liberty.”
Paul hit on his usual touchstones, including a need to stand up for an individual’s right to trial by jury and to stand against the National Security Agency. The senator and potential 2016 presidential contender recently filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over the NSA’s phone metadata collection program.
“If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance,” he said. “I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.”
Paul also made repeated attacks against President Barack Obama, arguing that the current White House occupant’s “timid defense of liberty” sets dangerous precedents for “lawlessness.”
“He’s got a pen, he’s got a phone, he doesn’t care what the law is,” Paul said. “A tyranny will ensue, and we must stop this President.”
Paul was playing off of Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he pledged to make 2014 a “year of action"–with or without Congress–by threatening to use his pen and phone to issue executive orders among other authorities.
Standing with Rand
To say CPAC is full of Paul supporters would be an understatement. This is his crowd–well, a part of his crowd. Paul is eager to expand his base, and expand the GOP in general.
He’s been aggressively trying to broaden the party by talking about the need to include not only libertarians, but even Democrats and minority voters that don’t traditionally fall in the GOP column.
But he wasn't trying to hammer home that message on Friday. His remarks were mostly catered to firing up the conservative libertarian crowd.
Paul supporters could be seen at all corners of the conference this week, easily spotted by their “I Stand With Rand” stickers and signs. Last year, Paul won the much-watched CPAC presidential poll.
Quite fittingly, the first-term senator walked out on stage to the lyrics of a famous 1990's Chumbawamba song: “I get knocked down / But I get up again / You’re never going to keep me down.”
The senator certainly made that message clear as he closed out his remarks, reminding the audience of the times he’s railed against opposition, even against those in his own party.
“When the President refused to rule out droning of American citizens, I took a stand. I filibustered,” he said, talking about his near 13-hour stand-off in the Senate last year when he questioned the legal use of drones on American citizens.
The 2013 episode further catapulted him into political fame, despite already having a famous father–Ron Paul, three time presidential candidate and a veteran congressman from Texas.
“When I discovered that the NSA spied on us...I took a stand,” he said. “I sued the President.”