Speaking at the five-year anniversary of the Tea Party movement that has altered the American political landscape and propelled his rise, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Thursday that the movement had to be more inclusive to those outside of the movement.
He said that “in order for us to be a bigger party, we have to reach out to more people, not just to those of us here.” Paul referenced figures like Ted Nugent, without mentioning him by name, whose rhetoric Paul said hurts all conservatives.
He said there are times, “though I don’t think it is our movement,” when people on the right are “using language that shouldn’t be used.” Without mentioning Nugent, who recently called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel,” Paul mentioned that he criticized one such person for rhetoric that did not help the movement. Paul had called on Nugent to apologize in light of his remarks.
“We can disagree with the president without calling him names. I disagree with the president almost all the time,” Paul said. “I don’t call him names, and I am polite to him when I meet him.” He again emphasized that he was not saying “that is our problem” but mentioned that “people outside” sometimes set the movement back.
Paul said that conservatives need to have a “happy message of optimism” that is one of “growth and inclusiveness” that seeks to bring up the poor and the long-term unemployed.
He said the conservative message is one that fights for the middle class, and it has to resonate more.
Paul blasted the bipartisan permanent political class for authorizing $3 million for a water-skiing squirrel as an example of Washington’s inability to cut bigger programs. He blasted the Obama administration for hiring workers during the government shutdown to surround the World War II memorial with barricades, and he said the the lasting symbol of the shutdown will be the veterans who took the barricades to the White House and piled them on the lawn. He also criticized the federal government for not realizing a global warming specialist at the Environmental Protection Agency lied about being a CIA agent to spend months away from his job while still being paid as an example of the bureaucracy’s ineptness.
Paul mentioned the painter Robert Henri, who speaks about painting “like a man coming over the hill singing” and said Republicans could be the majority again if they display that same sense of optimism.
He didn’t cite lyrics from the Proclaimers or quote Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but, in a change from his previous speeches, did stand at the side of the podium, which fellow presidential contender and potential rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) usually does in his speeches.