Rand Paul talks CPAC straw poll win, young people on Fox News Sunday

Rand Paul on Fox News Sunday

Fresh off a successful weekend at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Fox News Sunday to talk about his straw poll victory and young voters’ disenfranchisement with President Barack Obama.

“[T]he one thing about CPAC it’s just chock full of young people,” Paul told host Chris Wallace. “There are young people everywhere, and I think young people, their lives sort of rotate, and, you know, disseminate.”

“Everything goes out through their cell phone and they are very aware of their privacy,” he continued, “and they don’t think when the government tells them that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t protect your cell phone, doesn’t protect your records, they don’t accept that, so I think not only conservative young people from colleges and high school, I think young people across the country are fed up with the government that says, ‘Hey, the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to your records, doesn’t apply to your cell phone.’”

Paul, who’s speech to the conference was singularly focused on the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties, handily won the CPAC presidential straw poll on Saturday, riding a wave of support from young conference-goers. The Kentucky senator also won the straw poll in 2013, but by a much closer margin.

Several of Paul’s critics have responded to the win by pointing out that a straw poll means nothing, point to his father’s wins in the same straw poll in 2010 and 2011. The poll, of course, is a snapshot of the conservative movement, not necessarily of the Republican Party.

The irony in this, however, is that many of the people downplaying Paul’s straw poll victory are the same hailed Mitt Romney’s three consecutive CPAC straw poll wins (2007-2009). But those who spend so much time criticizing Paul would be remiss if they didn’t take note of his standing among Republican voters in 2016 polls or how he is changing the narrative inside the GOP.

Wallace said that Paul was trying to “thread the needle politically” by talking about traditionally conservative views on the size and scope of government and taxes, but is also pushing decidedly libertarian agenda on civil liberties. The Fox News Sunday host noted that his guest will speak this month at the University of California at Berkeley, which isn’t ordinarily receptive to conservative views.

“I believe passionately in the Bill of Rights, Fourth Amendment, to me is just as important as the Second Amendment” said Paul. “That hasn’t always been true for all Republicans, so that distinguishes me some, but it’s also something that attracts new people to our cause, I think.

“The President won the youth vote 3 to 1, but his numbers have dropped 20 [to] 30 percent among the youth,” he noted. “Really the public at large is less trusting of this President, but the youth in particular have lost faith in this President, and so I think there’s a real opportunity for Republicans who do believe in the Fourth Amendment to grow our party by attracting young people and bring that energy into our party.”

The conversation turned to foreign policy and the increasingly acrimonious relationship between the United States and Russia that has boiled over due to the crisis in Crimea. Paul explained that the situation could wind up backfiring on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Citing frequent criticism from hawkish, old guard Republicans, Wallace asked Paul how he would respond to Russia.

“I see more foreign policy in the same line as what came out of probably the first George Bush. Henry Kissinger wrote something in the Washington Post two days ago which I agree with,” Paul told Wallace (link added for reference). “I see it coming out of mainstream of the Republican position, but the interesting thing is that I opposed with real fervor the involvement of us in Syria, and that became the dominant position in the country, both Republican and Democrat,” adding that no one from the GOP is pushing for troops in Crimea or Ukraine.

“I think those who would try to argue that somehow I’m different than the mainstream Republican opinion are people who want to take advantage for their own person political gain,” he continued. “I’m a great believer in Ronald Reagan. I’m a great believer in a strong national defense. In fact, what Ronald Reagan said in about one sentence sums up a lot of what I believe.  He said to our potential adversary, ‘Don’t mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.’”

“People knew that with Ronald Reagan. They still need to know that with the United States, and part of the problem is I think this President hasn’t projected enough strength and hasn’t shown a priority to the national defense. That is something that were I in charge I would,” he added.

Paul said that he has not yet made a decision about seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, noting that his family is still discussing it. The Kentucky senator said that his message, one that reaches out to voters Republicans typically avoid, would be the same regardless of whether or not he runs.

“I think that the message that I’m trying to promote, whether I do it or not, of bringing our message to minority voters, to people who have been persecuted throughout history, to young people who feel like the government has grown too big,” he said, “I think it’s a message that can grow the party, and the party has to grow bigger or we’re not going to win again.”

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