BERKELEY, CA — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) received a warm welcome from a packed audience at the University of California-Berkeley on Wednesday afternoon, as he addressed the Berkeley Forum at International House.
Paul’s message of investigating and restraining the Central Intelligence Agency and other security arms of the federal government went down well on a campus that was the core of the anti-war movement in the Vietnam era. Yet there were quite a few conservative Republicans in the audience as well, on hand to hear one of their party’s new leaders–and, many expect, a likely contender for the presidential nomination in 2016.
“Maybe,” Paul said, when asked by the moderator whether he would run for president.
Paul focused his remarks on the CIA, touching on the recent scandal surrounding allegations that the agency spied on Senate staffers who were investigating the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation methods overseas. In the wake of a blistering speech on the Senate floor last week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Paul said there was bipartisan support for a select committee to investigate the CIA’s potentially criminal conduct.
The Kentucky senator also said that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper ought to be prosecuted for perjury, after misleading Congress about the National Security Agency’s vast data-collection program. While Edward Snowden committed crimes in leaking information about the program, Paul said, Clapper’s alleged crime should not be brushed aside.
After his remarks, Paul addressed a crowded press conference that included journalists who had made cross-country trips to cover his visit for the New York Times, the Daily Caller, and other outlets. In response to a local television reporter who asked him why he hoped to appeal to California, a largely Democratic state, Paul cited the unique history of Californians in their experience of civil rights abuses and internment (video below).