Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke to a standing room only audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, hammering his usual libertarian themes to the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservatives.
At different points the excited crowd, many of them young, broke into loud chants of “President Paul! President Paul!”
Describing challenging times ahead, Paul said, “Those who love liberty must rise to the occasion,” asking the audience “will you rise to the occasion?” to cheers.
Paul continued, “When politicians accept censorship, when politicians accept imprisonment without trial, when politicians accept torture, even of the innocent, as necessary, the lovers of liberty must rise.”
Paul promised to repeal “every last bit” of Obamacare and criticized the National Security Agency’s controversial metadata collection program, a subject that was a large part of his address at least year’s CPAC.
“The 9th amendment says that those rights not listed are not to be disparaged,” said the senator. “You do have a right to privacy. Your rights are who you are. Your rights are what you are.”
“Phone records of law abiding citizens are none of their damn business!” Paul boomed to more cheers.
Paul blasted the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 calling it “Hillary’s war in Libya,” zeroing in on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.
“Libya is less stable and radical jihadists run amok,” thanks to Clinton’s decisions, said Paul. The senator said the instability that was created by Obama and Clinton’s foreign policy led to the tragic murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi in 2012.
Paul declared, “I believe Hillary Clinton’s abdication of responsibility… her dereliction of duty should forever preclude her from higher office.”
He added, “It’s time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire” to raucous applause.
Combining conservatives’ characteristic distrust of government solutions with foreign policy, Paul said, “But as conservatives we should not succumb to this notion that government inept at home will somehow become easily successful abroad.”
Conservatives must not assume that “A government that can’t even deliver the mail might, will somehow be able to create nations abroad,” Paul advised.
The senator, who has tried to establish a reputation as a Republican willing to do minority outreach, mentioned his recent trips to meet with black leaders in Ferguson, telling the conservative and libertarian audience “our nation needs new ideas.”
Paul said he would soon “propose the largest tax cut in American history” that will “take the IRS out of your life.” He said his budget proposal would cut spending and balance the budget in five years.
His speech was followed by a question and answer session in which Paul revisited some of the same themes he addressed in his speech.
Paul has won CPAC’s annual presidential straw poll the last two years in a row. This year’s poll winner will be announced on the final day of the conference on Saturday.
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington and served as his new media director.