MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — In front of a boisterous pub crowd of young voters here, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) ripped into President Obama over executive overreach and even vowed to repeal “all previous executive orders” in one of his first acts as president, should he run.
Paul’s comments came to the New Hampshire chapter of Generation Opportunity, a national grassroots conservative group with a libertarian appeal with thousands of young liberty-minded activists nationwide engaged through it.
Paul focused much of his remarks on executive overreach by President Barack Obama, saving some of his most interesting points for a question-and-answer session at the end.
“There’s a rumor going around you might run for president in a couple years,” a young man shouted as Paul took questions from the audience for several minutes after a 15-plus-minute speech.
“I know, it’s crazy,” the young man followed up. “You spoke for a bit on the executive orders tonight. If you were to receive the presidency would you repeal previous executive orders and restrain the power of the presidency?”
“Absolutely,” the man shouted back at Paul. “You should run.”
While he’s not officially running for president – yet – Paul recently told Breitbart News he will decide whether to make a bid for the Oval Office by next spring, and his trip to New Hampshire, the site of the nation’s first presidential primary, is one of many trips he’s taken to key states over the past two years.
In a brief interview with Breitbart News outside after the speech and question-and-answer session, Paul said he thinks the president’s executive overreaches are massively unpopular nationwide and will have electoral consequences for candidates in races ranging from this year’s Senate races to 2016’s presidential contest.
Before Paul spoke at the event, his staff kicked out liberal operatives there to videotape him to use it to attack him–called “trackers” in professional politics–from American Bridge.
Paul’s reason for being in New Hampshire is a series of events he’ll attend with Scott Brown and other Republican candidates on Friday, including a post-primary “unity breakfast,” to unite the party here behind Brown heading into November’s battle with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). But it certainly didn’t hurt a likely 2016 candidate like Paul to hit up the bar with conservative college-age or just-out-of-college kids from Manchester while in town.
“How many people here have a cell phone?” Paul asked to open up his speech, as many held theirs up to show him. “How many people think it’s none of the government’s damn business what you have on your cell phone?”
“None!” everyone shouted.
“I’ve been thinking that’s true,” Paul joked. “But I’m really, really worried about Anthony Weiner. Because you know he likes to take his selfies, and he’s had trouble finding a place to put them where the government can’t find them. So I’m thinking maybe Anthony Weiner should put his selfie in Lois Lerner’s emails.”
The crowd of 200 strong, mostly young people under 30, at tonight’s event is a sign Paul’s conservative libertarianism is catching fire in “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire. Paul criticized the left’s immigration policies, Hillary Clinton’s and President Obama’s foreign policy, and big government Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who he didn’t name but specifically referenced at least once, mixing all that together with his libertarian messaging of demanding America “rethink the war on drugs” and protect constitutional liberties of Americans–a theme he hit in his Senate floor filibuster.
One questioner asked Paul to comment on “Barack Obama’s constitutional authority–or lack thereof–to legalize illegal aliens.”
“It’s not been one thing, it’s been many things,” Paul responded. “It’s been immigration, it’s been healthcare reform as well as war powers. He thinks he can do anything. In frankly almost all of these areas he’s usurped his authority. It’s wrong from a constitutional perspective. I think with DACA [the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive amnesty], he has no authority to do DACA. Not only is it wrong from a constitutional perspective but then in doing so it becomes something that really messes up the border. It screws things up because if you provide sort of a beacon, or a grant of forgiveness to people and say ‘this is okay’ without securing the border, what does that tell everybody else in Central America? ‘Hey guys, it’s open season, let’s move to the United States.’ So 50,000 kids have come also because of this Wilberforce Act which says we’re going to treat people differently if they come to the United States from a country other than Mexico. So, 50,000 kids are here.”
Paul argued too that it’s not anti-immigrant to oppose amnesty and executive orders like the one President Obama has now delayed past the election. “We have to be a part–and I am a person who is part of a party–who I think does and should look at immigrants as assets,” Paul said. “I was in Guatemala a couple weeks ago, and my main conversation with the president there was we would like more adoption of Guatemalan children. There are thousands of Americans who would adopt Guatemalan children. I don’t want to be the party that is against Guatemalan kids, but I do want to be the party that is for enforcing the rule of law and says we can’t have just everybody come whenever they want to.”
Earlier, during his remarks, Paul hammered Obama on his use of executive authority. “[Abraham] Lincoln wrote that any man can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” Paul said. “I think this president has failed that test at every turn because this president has said that ‘oh, well, Democracy is messy and Congress won’t give me what I want.’ A direct quote from one of his people about two weeks they said, ‘he has no choice but to act.’ It sounds like we live in some kind of third world place where the president does whatever he wants. This is the idea that the presidency is run amok. I was talking to one of you earlier and you said it didn’t start with him–you’re right. It’s gone on for a hundred years, and progressively has gotten worse, Republicans and Democratic administrations, with more and more power accumulating in the presidency.”
Paul continued by noting that he thinks Obama’s executive overreaches are worse than any individual policies he’s pushed. “The worst thing this president has done is not Obamacare,” Paul said. “It’s not Dodd-Frank. And they’re horrible. They’re terrible. They’re the worst pieces of legislation in a couple decades. But the worst thing this president has done is run roughshod over the separation of powers.”
Paul shifted into criticizing the president on ISIS, saying “there’s a big deal going on in the Middle East right now called ISIS”–noting how he thinks they’re a threat to America, and to America’s embassies and consulates worldwide.