HOUSTON, Texas — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, again decided to break from the norm of the rest of the field this weekend. While most candidates were in Iowa for the Family Leadership Summit, Paul attended a rally here with hundreds of conservatives just an hour outside his hometown in Lake Jackson, Texas.
“I grew up in Texas, I went to Brazoswood High School about an hour from here and I went to Baylor which is up in Waco—and actually one of the interviews I did on the radio on the way down here was with a guy I was part of Young Conservatives of Texas with, which a group that Steve Munisteri [the former Texas GOP chairman who’s working for Paul’s campaign now] founded and it was a break off of Young Americans for Freedom back in the 1970s,” Paul said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News right before he took the stage.
“It’s good to be here to reconnect with people and also spend a lot of time with my family as well. Being in Texas is great—a lot of Republicans down here, a very red state—but to have 800 people for a rally is pretty good considering there’s some other Texans in the race as well.”
Paul, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, grew up here in Texas and is one of many Texans in the 2016 GOP presidential primary. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is also running as is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was born and raised in Texas too.
Paul, a grassroots conservative candidate, took the stage inside downtown Houston’s Hyatt Regency while local band “The Guzzlers” played hits like “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and other songs before introducing Paul as the “next president of the United States.”
“Anyone here from the leave me alone coalition?” Paul asked the crowd as he took the stage, to shouts of “YEAH!”
“How about the leave me the hell alone coalition?” Paul followed up to more cheers.
“Justice Brandeis once said that the right most cherished by civilized men is the right to be left alone,” Paul said. “Yet in Washington, every day in every nook and cranny of your lives—your business life, your personal life—the government wants to get a piece of you. What we need to do is shut down the Washington machine, and give you your freedom back.”
Paul lit into every single high-profile member of the Washington establishment ranging from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while laying out how Washington, D.C., is a mess.
“You have people in Washington do things that you would never, ever approve of,” Paul said. “I’ll give you an idea. Does anybody here think it’s a good idea to borrow money from China to send it to Pakistan?”
“No!” the crowd of several hundred people shouted resoundingly.
“We borrow a million dollars every minute,” Paul said. “We’ve got roads and problems in schools and crime and all of these things we have to take care of in our country, and they’re not only taking your money—borrowing money you don’t have—only to send it to someone else’s country. It’s obscene and it ought to stop. I say not one penny more.”
The crowd went wild.
“I’m on the Foreign Relations committee and so we had an amendment that I moved forward and I think it sounds pretty reasonable—there are some countries who will put a Christian to death, or actually anyone of any religion to death, if someone changes their religion, marries someone of another religion, or commits what is called blasphemy which means you don’t agree with whatever the state religion is,” Paul said.
But you think really anyone in America would want to send money to a country that is putting Christians on death row? There’s a woman by the name of Asia Bibi and she’s been on death row in Pakistan for five years. Her crime? She went to the well to draw water, and as she was drawing water they began chanting ‘Death! Death to the Christian!’ They began beating her with sticks. They began stoning her. And at this point she is crying out for help and the police finally come and she thinks she is being rescued, and as they rescue her they say ‘no, you will now be put in prison on the charges that the other women say you committed blasphemy.’ She’s been on death row for five years. You send billions of your dollars to Pakistan every day now. You spent a hundred billion dollars in Afghanistan. Well I thought we had to do what we did over there to stop the people who attacked us, our mistake was staying and staying and staying.
The crowd cheered as Paul then launched an attack on Rubio.
“Our mistake is in planting the flag and saying ‘we’re going to create a nation out of you,’” Paul said. “They asked one of the other candidates about this and I don’t like to mention names but he was a senator from Florida…”
The crowd burst out in laughter at Rubio’s expense.
“They asked him about nation building and he said ‘I’m not for nation building but I am for helping them build nations,’” Paul continued, quoting a Rubio gaffe from earlier this year. “It’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation,” Rubio said of Iraq on Fox News.
The crowd broke out laughing out loud at Rubio.
“Here’s the problem,” Paul added. “We have to defend ourselves. The most important thing we do is our national defense. It’s something we can’t do individually: We need a country to do that. It’s in our Constitution. As Commander in Chief it will be my number one responsibility to defend the country. But that does not mean intervening everywhere all the time and it does not mean that every intervention is helpful.”
The crowd broke out into applause for nearly five full seconds of cheering.
“It also doesn’t mean you can give a blank check to the Pentagon,” Paul started again as the audience cheering died down.
You can’t borrow money from China even if it’s for a purpose that you think government should be involved with. We can’t project power from bankruptcy court. We had this debate. I had this debate—with the senator from Florida, once again—he wanted to increase defense spending and I said if we really need to we should cut a corresponding amount of other spending. He said, ‘oh no, I want to just increase spending.’ I said why don’t we have a side-by-side vote. Why don’t we have yours where we just increase it blindly with no cuts and I’ll put up an alternative where we cut spending in another place to pay for it? By and large, people voted to increase spending by borrowing from China. That’s the problem with Washington. You have Democrats who will borrow money from China to spend it on domestic programs but you often have Republicans who will borrow from China to spend it on military. We do not project power from bankruptcy court.
The crowd went wild again.
“Admiral [Mike] Mullen [the now former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] said that the number one threat to our national security is our debt,” Paul continued.
We have an $18 trillion debt, borrowing a million dollars a minute. Many economists are saying that it’s costing us a million jobs a year. You say, ‘well where you can possibly cut?’ The president says well how could we cut any money? Where will we cut? Hmm. Let’s see. What about the $300,000 we spent developing a Cricket league in Afghanistan? Or maybe the $300,000 we spent studying whether or not a Swedish massage of bunny rabbits would help them relax after exercising? Or maybe the $300,000 we spent studying whether people are crankier when they’re hungry? I love this study. They gave little dolls—I don’t know if they were voodoo dolls technically, or not—they gave dolls to the participants and they gave a needle and you were supposed to stab the doll with the needle if you were cranky or if you were hungry. The hungrier people became, the more they jabbed the doll. That cost you $300,000 but I think you could have polled the audience on that one. But the other side says we can’t cut any money. There are billions and billions of dollars of duplicate programs that could be cut. The bottom line is it’s going to take the reverse of what we have in Washington. The consensus now is Republicans and Democrats both get together and spending goes up. We need the opposite. We need both to come together and say “enough’s enough, we we’re ruining the country, let’s only spend what comes in.”
The crowd went wild again before Paul then launched into a strike against President Obama.
“People ask me what’s the worst thing the president has done to the country, and I tell them: ‘How long do you have?’” Paul said. “It’s a long list but if we want to sum it all up and we want to put it into something that’s constructive that we could learn from and that others could learn from, it’s that this president has been collapsing the separation of powers.”
The crowd burst into applause again before Paul continued:
One of the most important things that our Founding Fathers did was to set up coequal branches of government. There’s supposed to be a certain amount of equilibrium. [James] Madison described it this way: Madison said there would be an ambition of one branch versus another. We would pit the ambition of Congress versus the ambition of the president and they would check and balance each other. There would be these checks and balances.
Paul quoted Montesquieu who said that “when the executive begins to legislate, there will be a form of tyranny” and argued that “that’s what’s going on here.”
“It isn’t just President Obama, though,” Paul said. “It’s happened under Republican presidents. It’s been happening and worsening for over a hundred years. The executive branch is growing larger and larger and larger. When I talk about defeating the Washington machine, it’s largely the executive branch.”
When the crowd—which burst into applause again—quieted down, Paul laid out what he’d do about this if Americans elect him president. “I want to be the first president that doesn’t grab more power, but gives the power back to the states and to the people,” Paul said to loud cheers.
He later joked that “there have been a few scandals in President Obama’s administration,” to laughter from the crowd, “and when I think about them I think about the old nursery rhyme Old MacDonald’s Farm, ‘here a scandal, there a scandal, everywhere a scandal.’”
“But the one that probably bothers me the worst is Benghazi,” Paul said before launching into a missive at Hillary Clinton.
Here’s the thing: It wasn’t just the spin. Politicians almost always lie almost all the time. You can just expect it. So they tried to push off blame and say it didn’t have anything to do with terrorism on 9/11, it was just a coincidence, and it was just friendly people who got unhappy about a movie. Alright, that’s completely stupid and we’ve debunked that. Alright.
But that isn’t what makes me so mad about the Benghazi episode. What makes me mad is that for nine months they pleaded for more security. From February on of that year, for eight months before the ambassador was assassinated, they kept pleading for more security. In February, Hillary Clinton’s State Department brought home six special forces guys. In March they brought home six more. In April, in Benghazi, they said “we would like a DC-3 to be able to fly around the country in the case of emergency.”
Which they ultimately needed and had no plane. Denied by the State Department. Three days after Hillary Clinton denied the plane they could fly around in Libya, she approved a $100,000 charging station for the Vienna embassy. It seems they were greening up the embassy and they bought a whole bunch of Chevy Volts—or you bought them a bunch of Chevy Volts—and there were 24 Chevy Volts and someone said “oh no, we’re from the government and we don’t know how to plug these things in.”
They had the wrong plugs. They spent $100,000—so no plane to fly around Benghazi but a $100,000 for a charging station. You get to the summertime before the ambassador is assassinated and what is Hillary Clinton’s State Department spending money on? Well, they spent $100,000 on sending three comedians to India on a ‘Make Chai, Not War’ [tour]. They spent $650,000—Hillary Clinton’s State Department—on Facebook ads because it seems the State Department didn’t have enough Facebook friends.
They spent $700,000 on landscaping the Brussels embassy but the real kicker? They spent $5 million on crystal ball ware for the embassies. But they didn’t have enough for a fifty-year-old plane to transport the ambassador around and you know why they didn’t want to leave the special forces there? Because Hillary Clinton is so politically correct that she’s ashamed the soldiers might have guns and they might show their boots. This comes from Col. [Andy] Wood—he was the leader of the remaining 16-man security team. He informs us that the State Department told them not to wear their military boots on patrol because the freedom fighters in Libya might be offended by our show of force. Do you know who these freedom fighters in Libya were? Jihadists. These were people we had had in prison. These are people who had been fighting against us.
Paul then shifted into linking Clinton together with the top Republicans who wanted to go to war in Libya, even though it ended up creating more of a mess than it fixed.
“These are the radical Islamists who now run the country—actually, there is no country,” Paul said.
The whole war from top to bottom was a huge mistake. A huge mistake, and you can blame that on Hillary Clinton. But you can also assess some blame to those who wanted to go to war in Libya in our party. It was a huge mistake. So we’re leading up to the month before he’s assassinated, and Col. Wood is there with a 16-person security team and he’s sending message after message back to Washington: “We need to stay, there’s a danger of being overrun.”
Finally, the ambassador gets in. The ambassador is sending cable after cable to Hillary Clinton. So when Hillary Clinton comes before my committee when the investigation occurs after the ambassador has been assassinated, I asked her this question: “Secretary Clinton, did you read the cables from the ambassador?” She acted all put off and said “no, no.” She acted as if it was someone else’s responsibility. Libya is one of the five most dangerous countries in the world, probably, and she didn’t have time to read the cables? But I think Hillary, by her dereliction of duty, by her not providing security should forever be precluded from being Commander in Chief.
The crowd roared before later in the speech, Paul unloaded on McCain. He was in the middle of laying out why the Republican Party should stick up for the full Bill of Rights, not just part of it.
“If we want to win again, we have to stick up for the Sixth Amendment—the Sixth Amendment says you have a right to a trial by jury,” Paul said.
And you’re like, who could be opposed to the right of a trial by jury? Who could be possibly be? I was having a debate on the Senate floor over something called indefinite detention. Indefinite detention means any one of you could be accused of a crime and put in jail forever if they call you an enemy of the state—which there are some criteria, they put up criteria of people who the government might consider enemies of state: Missing fingers, stains on your clothing, likes to pay in cash, has multiple guns in the house. The thing is if this is the criteria of people they want you to report to the government, wouldn’t you know for damn sure I’d want my lawyer before they come to my house. I’d want my day in court. We’re having this debate, and I don’t like to name names but a senator from Arizona…
The crowd booed as Paul brought up McCain.
“So we’re having this debate over indefinite detention and I said you mean you could take an American citizen and send them to Guantanamo Bay for the rest of their lives without a trial, without a lawyer, without their day in court?” Paul continued. “He said, yeah, if they’re dangerous. It kind of begs the question, doesn’t it? Who gets to decide who’s dangerous and who’s not?”
The crowd broke into more applause for Paul.