Rand Paul urges conservatives to elect 'lovers of liberty'

WASHINGTON Fri Mar 7, 2014 5:15pm EST

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) pauses in his remarks as guests applaud at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, March 7, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) pauses in his remarks as guests applaud at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, March 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Theiler

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Rand Paul, a potential 2016 White House contender, on Friday accused President Barack Obama of restricting civil liberties and urged conservatives to "stand with me" in electing a president who would protect personal rights.

In a starkly libertarian speech, the senator from Kentucky condemned National Security Agency electronic surveillance, detention without trial programs and what he said were other encroachments on civil rights under the Obama administration.

But unlike other Republican speakers at the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference, Paul said the issues were bigger than the two major political parties.

"You may think I'm talking about electing Republicans, I'm not. I'm talking about electing lovers of liberty," Paul told the cheering crowd. "It is decidedly not a time for the faint of heart. It is a time for boldness and action."

Paul, who has not said whether he will run in 2016, was one of four potential Republican presidential candidates to address the annual conference on Friday, along with Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Five other potential candidates spoke on Thursday as Republicans got a head start on the White House battle in front of thousands of conservative activists at a convention center in National Harbor, Maryland, a Washington suburb.

Paul drew a rousing response from the crowd for accusing Obama of running roughshod over personal liberty with programs like the NSA's electronic surveillance. He asked attendees to "imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty."

Perry, who is not running for re-election in Texas but is considering another White House bid, also drew a positive response. He touted his vision for smaller government and said his work in Texas, along with the records of other Republican governors, showed what innovative leadership could accomplish.

"We don't have to accept recent history. We just need to change the presidency," said Perry, whose ill-fated 2012 presidential bid crashed with a thud after a series of campaign-trail gaffes.

He said he and fellow Republican governors had pursued a limited government where "taxes are low, spending's under control, jobs are on the rise and opportunity is being sought far and wide."

Santorum brought up his failed 2012 presidential run, reminding the crowd that he finished second in the primary field to eventual winner Mitt Romney. By winning nominating contests in 11 states, Santorum said, he proved his appeal went beyond his cultural conservative values.

"Everybody in that race was a cultural conservative," he said.

Huckabee, who fell short in a 2008 presidential bid, condemned Obama's foreign policy leadership and accused the president of bungling relations with Israel and damaging America's standing around the globe.

"There is not one country anywhere with whom we have a better relationship than we did before," Huckabee said. "No one trusts us, no one listens to us, no one respects us, and no one fears us."

The three-day conference concludes on Saturday with the results of a presidential preference straw poll of convention-goers. Paul won the poll last year.

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Comments (9)
AlkalineState wrote:
“Lovers of Liberty.”

Yes, the same conservatives who want restrictions on who you can marry, what you can smoke, and what women do at womens’ clinics. How’s that working out for you, republicans :)

Mar 07, 2014 6:08pm EST  --  Report as abuse
4825 wrote:
Everyone should want to elect “lovers of liberty”. Like Patrick Henry’s famous line; Give me liberty, or give me death. Mr. Henry knew the importance of liberty in a man’s life. Without it, you have no meaning. Liberty defined: the quality or state of being free and the power to do as one wants.

There will be a lot of good conservative choices to run against the extreme liberal machine in 2016. It is my belief that the country is ready for a change. A new path from the failed Democrat policies that have held the economy and people of the country back, keeping them from being successful. Policies that will motivate, instead of demotivate. Policies that will bring about job growth instead of job decline. Policies that give a man a hand up instead of just a hand out. Policies that will show strength to our friends and foes alike, instead of weakness. Transparency and truth, instead of lie after lie. True leadership and something to look forward to. Leading from the front instead of leading from behind. Yes, it is time for a change.

Mar 07, 2014 6:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Robert76 wrote:
4825…you must either be a shill for the Republicans or aomeone who only watches Fox News. You say everyone should elect lovers of liberty. Do you mean the ones who want to dictate what you can believe, who you can marry, what you can learn, etc. Look around at the Republican held states and see all the liberties being taken away by the Republicans in Power. If they have their way we will live in a Theocratic state not unlike that being pushed by the Taliban. As for failed Democratic policies that hold back job growth? The biggest impediment to job growth has been allowing corporations to “off shore” jobs to 3rd world county for slave labor rates and then bank their dirty profits to avoid any income tax payments. It has led to the loss of over 38.6 million jobs. Until we get rid of those loop holes and start taxing these companies on their hidden bank accounts, there will be no incentive for them to bring back those jobs. It is not Democratic policies that have led to these job loses, but Republican policies.

Mar 07, 2014 6:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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