SIMI VALLEY, California — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is aiming his guns at GOP frontrunner billionaire Donald Trump ahead of the second presidential debate.
While shooting a rifle, shotgun and pistol at Taran Tactical Innovations here, down the street from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Paul told reporters he’s gunning for Trump. Paul fired at targets including a big stack of paper file boxes labeled the “IRS Tax Code” and at a bulletproof vest.
But it’s Trump who he’s really pointing his guns at, and in doing so Paul is in some ways casting his lot with Glenn Beck—the right of center radio host and former Fox News showman who’s recently called every one supporting Trump from the Tea Party movement racists. While Paul didn’t go as far as Beck has in recent days, he did claim that those Tea Partiers at Beck’s rally and other rallies on the National Mall back in 2010 were actually “rallying against Donald Trump” and everything Trump believes.
This represents the most significant effort Paul—who has slipped significantly in polling as Trump has risen—has launched to try to take out the front-running Republican. Paul has, like many of the other Republican candidates who have previously gone after Trump, slipped significantly in polling though. One candidate, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has already dropped out of the race because he made the mistake of attacking Trump.
“I think that debating is intellectual combat, and we should try to figure out the differences between the candidates,” Paul said in a press conference after shooting in response to a question from Breitbart News.
I also think if someone is presenting themselves as something they’re not, I think it’s important that that be exposed as well. To me, ultimately the question ought to be which of the candidates is really for smaller government? Which of the candidates is for more freedom? And which of the candidates would actually do what they say?
Paul previously said he believes that Trump needs to be shot with “both barrels.”
When asked about that comment—which is on the Drudge Report—Paul said he was showcasing his own “bravado.”
“Some of that is bravado on my part but I will be there and I will be trying to represent as best as I can the positions I have of small government and the Constitution and I really don’t think he’s from that small government and Constitution movement,” Paul said in response to a CNN reporter. “He’s from a movement that’s foreign to most conservatives. He’s recently come to join the Republican Party and he’s trying to join as a conservative. I think there’s a great deal of evidence in the opposite direction that he’s not a conservative.”
Paul said he wants to push his message on the stage, but knows—since he’s a “realist”—that for the last several months Trump has been the frontrunner “dominating” the polls.
“I think you have to point out the faults of the leader if you want to be the leader,” Paul said. “It’s about presenting your message but sometimes it’s about pointing out what’s wrong with the decisions currently being made by folks.”
When asked by another reporter if he thinks it’s “his job” to hold Trump to account, Paul said he has been for his “whole life” part of a:
movement that is for small government, constitutional government, property rights, and really he has been on the opposite side of every battle I’ve been involved in as an adult. I think it’s really important people can’t slither in and say ‘hey guys, I’m a conservative’ when in fact he was for the president’s stimulus plan, he was for Obamacare, he was for the bank bailouts, those are the things that motivated the entire Tea Party movement.
When 100,000 people were rallying on the Mall, they were rallying against Donald Trump and everything Donald Trump stands for. So my hope is that the Tea Party will wake up and say “this guy is not one of us,” particularly on the issue of private property. Private property is sort of one of the building blocks of capitalism. The security of title and that we can borrow against the title for our land is something that has developed great capital.
This is a guy who believes that the government, through eminent domain, particularly when it’s of financial benefit to him. I think that’s anathema to most conservatives. I think people have been overwhelmed by celebrity but they haven’t really examined his positions. When they examine his positions, I think they’re going to come to the realization that he’s not really a conservative.
When Fox News’ John Roberts—one of the reporters in a secret meeting yesterday with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—asked Paul if he’s concerned about “blowback” since Trump is like a “bulletproof vest” and nothing sticks to him and some of the “shrapnel” bounces back on whoever’s shooting, Paul said he wasn’t.
“I think who leads the party and who becomes the presidential nominee is important enough to risk a little blowback,” Paul said.
Paul added that he thinks Trump’s soaring lead in the polls is not an accurate assessment of the field.
“I think we’re looking at polls of undecided people,” Paul said.
That’s not really being reported I think widely enough. When you ask people in every one of the polls who’s decided, two thirds are saying they’re undecided. Then the pollster says “no really, who are you kind of leaning towards?”
This is a poll of leaners toward the undecided. I really think it is influenced by celebrity and isn’t accurate toward the actual polling. I also think that people haven’t yet scratched beyond the surface to go into the substance of it. Can you be for the Kelo decision, the decision that allowed private property to be taken from small property owners and be given to large corporations, can you be for that and be a conservative?
Can you be for President Obama’s government stimulus where government spends money to create jobs in a Keynesian sort of fashion—can you be for that and be a conservative? Can you be for higher taxes and be a conservative? Can you be for a single-payer system—or a year or two be for a single-payer system and now be believable in being against a single-payer system?
Some of these problems came back to roost on Romney since Romney had been for a single-payer system in Massachusetts. Ultimately, that was a problem. Ultimately, the issues will be a problem for Trump when people get beyond the celebrity. I do think his attack on Fiorina probably started to wake people up. I think Governor Perry leaving the race started to wake people up—that my goodness a governor of a large Republican state is leaving but we’re keeping a reality TV star who really shows no evidence of being serious about anything.
Paul said, however, he would support Trump if he is the GOP nominee. “I said I will support any of the nominees, but some less enthusiastically than others,” Paul said.