MILFORD, New Hampshire — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) rocked a rally packed with supporters Wednesday, the day after he announced he’s running for president of the United States.
“Do we have any lovers of liberty in here?” Paul yelled out to the crowd, which cheered loudly for him.
When the founders of New Hampshire came up with the motto “Live Free or Die” they didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. They didn’t clamor to be left half free. They didn’t whimper to be left half dead. New Hampshire founders didn’t seek out the mushy middle. They admonished you to live free. A government that takes half your pay does not let you live free. A government that sifts through your personal records does not let you live free.
The crowd went wild, shouting “President Paul! President Paul! President Paul!”
“I come to New Hampshire to announce that I will fight for your right to be left alone,” Paul said before launching into a version of his announcement speech.
When he hit the foreign policy elements of the speech though—where he says that he won’t be afraid to define and name America’s biggest enemy in the Middle East, radical Islam—a man interrupted playfully to say the enemy was the Democrats. Paul played it off.
“Without question we must defend ourselves, and our interests, from America’s enemies,” Paul said.
“Crush the Democrats!” a man yelled from the crowd.
Paul continued forward playing it off coolly. “Until we name the enemy, we will not win the war,” Paul said. As the crowd cheered for him loudly, he cupped his hand around his ear as if signaling to the man in the crowd he agreed the Democrats are among America’s enemies.
“There are enemies within, and there are enemies without,” Paul joked, before getting serious again: “But the enemy without is a barbarous aberration we must name if we are to defend ourselves. This enemy is radical Islam. Not only will I name the enemy, I will do whatever it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind.”
After the speech, Paul held a press conference where he took a range of questions from reporters across the ideological spectrum. Breitbart News asked Paul about Common Core, and why he’s opposed to it.
“For a long time in the Republican Party, there has been division—conservatives have felt like we don’t want much control of education, very little if any, at the federal level,” Paul said.
We think it is a local issue. But this battle has been fought for several decades now. When Ronald Reagan won in 1980, it became part of the platform that we were actually opposed to the Department of Education. I still am. I think it ought to go back to the states.
There have always been other members of our party, and when George W. Bush won in 2000 it came out of the platform. Under the Republican administration, we actually doubled the size of the Department of Education. We now have warped into No Child Left Behind and Common Core.
This is a deep philosophical divide in the party and what you’ll see and what I’m seeing when I go around the country is that there is a strong—nobody is directing it from Washington, but you heard the response to Common Core out here. You hear that response everywhere you go and it is a spontaneous movement that is unhappy about Washington telling them what kind of curriculum they can have in New Hampshire. I’m going to continue to fight it and I think it will be a key issue that ends up differentiating candidates.”
When a CBS News reporter asked about the religious liberty laws coming under fire across America’s heartland, Paul defended them.
“It’s hard for me to even imagine we question whether or not you have religious liberty or the freedom to express yourself however you want to in our country,” Paul said.
Our Founding Fathers sort of struggled with this because there was a debate in our country and the debate was: “Well do we really need to list something that’s so obvious?” I guess it’s why you have to list things. It is pretty obvious to people that you should be able to decide whether you want to participate in a wedding or not, what kind of wedding you want to participate in that relates to your expression of religion. I don’t think there’s any question that we should have freedom of religious express in our country.
At the press conference, Paul also said he expects New Hampshire to be important in his effort to secure the Republican nomination.
“I think there are no absolutes in politics, and even when a politician tells you absolutely they come back and change their minds some of the time,” Paul said when asked by a local reporter if New Hampshire is essential to his campaign.
But I will say that New Hampshire is incredibly important to me. We will try very hard. We are going to do everything we can to win in New Hampshire. I do think we need to win New Hampshire. The way our system works is a great deal of momentum comes out of the early states.
I do agree with people that New Hampshire has a “leave me alone” attitude. That’s something that I think fits very well with what I have to say and what I believe, so I think we’re a natural fit in New Hampshire. I’m not going to shy away from saying, yes, not only do we want to win New Hampshire, but we feel it is extraordinarily important to win New Hampshire.