Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is already back at work after he filibustered on the U.S. Senate floor for about 10 and a half hours on Wednesday. He’s declaring his marathon a smashing success in the quest to get the National Security Agency (NSA) to stop bulk collection of Americans’ records.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Thursday morning—his first since leaving the Senate floor late Wednesday evening, just before midnight—Paul said his position on the NSA is gaining more and more steam both inside the beltway in Washington and across America.
“I think the main thing is trying to draw attention to a really, really important issue which is that the government shouldn’t be collecting in bulk our phone records. Warrants should name an individual but really the NSA spying on Americans should end,” Paul said.
I think that position, particularly outside Washington—as I’ve traveled the country—is particularly popular. But Washington is starting to come around and I think I’ve seen a little bit of a break in the ice in this. Last night there were people from both sides, Republican and Democrat, coming to the floor in support of this. I think we have had a good success and our hope is still that leadership will decide to allow amendments that end the bulk collection and we plan on continuing the fight and having an amendment that will end bulk collection of records.
Paul has certainly focused the political conversation on this issue—his specialty and something he’s been trying to force a discussion about for some time. He’s also exposed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as operating a closed-debate process with few or no amendments allowed. And Paul forced the USA Freedom Act back at least a day. Paul doesn’t like the USA Freedom Act as it currently stands because it would move the NSA’s data collection into the hands of the private companies and have them collect the data—rather than ending collection altogether.
Paul added in his Breitbart News exclusive interview that he believes the widespread bipartisan support for his filibuster on Wednesday—several Democrats and several Republicans joined him on the floor—is a sign that the politicians in Washington are beginning to hear Americans out on their opposition to NSA spying.
“I think so, and I think the fact that the second highest court in the land—the Second Appeals Court—has ruled that this is illegal has added a lot of weight to this,” Paul said of the momentum this is getting inside the beltway. “I think a lot of the polls, which one we mentioned yesterday during the filibuster—people ages 19-39, 80 percent of them think the government has gone too far in collecting their records.”
Paul also said that this time around he wore comfortable shoes and didn’t drink much water—learning from his 2013 filibuster against drone strike abuse.
“I did wear my comfortable shoes so my feet are not as sore today,” Paul told Breitbart News. “Comfortable shoes, drink very little water so you don’t have to leave the floor. I don’t know—I think we drew a lot of attention to it and will continue to today. We have a drive right now on RandPaul.com to get people to support stopping the NSA spying and bulk collection of records. It’s amazing that this has great legs outside of Washington.”
Paul also fired away at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who on Thursday seemingly attacked Paul’s filibuster by saying in New Hampshire that there’s “not a shred of evidence” that NSA’s spying on Americans violated their civil liberties.
“Some of the people are sort of mired in the past—and I think there were comments that Jeb Bush made this morning in New Hampshire, saying that he supports the bulk collection of data,” Paul said of his naysayers in the Republican establishment, specifically singling out Bush.
They don’t quite understand where the people are on this. If you talk to just Republicans, you’ll find that the vast majority of Republicans think the government has gone too far with the NSA bulk collection of records. My opposition to the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records I think is a very strong position in the Republican primary voter group. We’ll see how it shapes up, but I think Bush’s position to support the bulk collection of records is not going to help him with voters in the Republican primary.