IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tells Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that part of the reason he’s fighting so hard against liberal media attacks—and against Democrats including Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz—is because GOP voters crave a nominee who’s willing to stand up and fight for conservatism.
Throughout this week, Paul’s first as a declared 2016 presidential candidate, he’s been the subject of one attack after another from reporters ranging from NBC’s Savannah Guthrie to the Associated Press’ Phillip Elliot. The latest comes from the liberal UK Guardian.
It’s been a largely successful launch week for Paul despite the attacks, he says. He’s enjoyed large crowds at each of his four major events so far in Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa. He’s doing a quick stop in California on Friday before wrapping his launch week tour in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday. Nonetheless, Paul has seemed to seize on the attacks as a rallying point to show Republicans he’s willing and able to stand up and fight for conservatism.
“If I were to characterize our week, I’d say great week—we had a couple thousand people in Louisville, we had a huge crowd in New Hampshire, huge crowd in South Carolina and several hundred kids at the university here,” Paul told Breitbart News when asked about his first week.
So I think we’ve had a great week. I think you always have a few hiccups with the media because in general, the media may not always be the best friend to conservatives. So there will be some hiccups with that. But at the same time, I think people want a candidate who will be a fighter for conservative values. I think one of things that’s been lacking with some previous nominees is not too much aggression, but lacking aggressively defending the conservative agenda.
One thing that immediately comes to mind: How Mitt Romney, in 2012, allowed Candy Crowley of CNN to walk all over him in the final debate with President Obama about Benghazi.
“Well, I don’t think it’s the role of the moderator in a debate to insert themselves into the debate and to declare a winner or a loser on a particular point,” Romney later complained about the instance. “And I must admit that at that stage, I was getting a little upset at Candy, because in a prior setting where I was to have had the last word, she decided that Barack Obama was to get the last word despite the rules that we had.”
But Romney didn’t stick up for himself until long after the debate, and after he lost the election.
In his speech to several hundred students here at the University of Iowa—which opened, closed and had several interruptions of the audience chanting “President Paul! President Paul! President Paul!”—Paul also joked about how the liberal media doesn’t like conservatives.
“I’m not naive. I know we have differences between the parties, but I also know we can find common ground,” Paul said. “I’ll give you an example: When I first got to the Senate, legislators from California were pressing to quickly pass new pipeline regulations after an explosion in San Bruno killed eight people. I held the bill and I got terrible grief from the media. Let’s just be honest, sometimes the media just don’t understand alright?”
The crowd went wild.
“When the media finally gave me time to explain myself I told them I want to read the bill before I sign off on it,” Paul continued. “Imagine that. Imagine the temerity of wanting to read a bill before you vote on it.”
The crowd roared in applause again.
“The media continued to hound me, but the funny thing is when we finished reading the bill we discovered that the so-called safety bill had a glaring loophole,” Paul said.
The so-called pipeline safety bill was written to grandfather in the old pipelines, but those were the ones that were exploding. The old pipelines were precisely the problem. The San Bruno one was over 50 years old. The old pipelines needed the inspections more than the new pipelines. They were going to pass window dressing saying they addressed the problem but never fixing the problem. That’s the story of Washington.