- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul told members of the liberty movement that they’ve been “winning” the big policy battles on Capitol Hill and that their message could grow even stronger in the coming years if former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes the next Democratic nominee for president.

Pondering a White House run of his own, Mr. Paul made the short trek to Chantilly, in Washington’s Virginia suburbs, to speak at the Liberty Political Action Conference. The conference gave him a chance to talk directly to many of the people who supported his father, Rep. Ron Paul, in the 2008 and 2012 Republican presidential primary races and whom he will likely need to win a Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

The Kentucky Republican also used is as an opportunity to chop down his potential Democratic rival, saying that Mrs. Clinton’s support of a military strike against Syria and of big government policies could make it easier for the liberty movement to make inroads with young voters and attract them to the GOP.

“Who has been the most aggressive for being involved in Syria? Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Paul said. “Who is probably the least likely to protect privacy among Democrats? Hillary Clinton … You could see the whole entire youth movement switching if we know what we are doing.”

The three-day conference at a hotel conference center in Northern Virginia features some of the liberty movement’s leading stars. 

The list of speakers includes Republican Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Steve Stockman of Texas and Paul Broun of Georgia. The conference also features panels focusing on everything from protecting the Second Amendment to reducing the debt and defending individual liberties from the “surveillance state.”

But the event’s biggest attractions are clearly the Pauls. 

The elder Mr. Paul is scheduled to speak here Friday and there is a panel on Saturday dedicated to the subject: “How the Ron Paul Revolution Continues to Reshape the Landscape of American Politics.”

Serving as one of the conference’s opening attractions, the younger Mr. Paul joked that he feels the same way that Hollywood acting star Charlie Sheen must have felt about a couple of years ago when he was “going crazy” and racing around saying “winning, winning, winning.”

“Well, I kind of feel like that I think we are winning, and I am not on any drugs,” the Kentucky Republican quipped.

Mr. Paul said the liberty movement scored major victories by forcing Mr. Obama to back off his push for a military strike against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad in response to its use of chemical weapons. Mr. Paul said it also has been driving the argument that the NSA spying programs are undermining civil liberties and personal privacy.

Looking to pick up the pieces from the 2012 election, Mr. Paul said that the Republican Party could reach out to the young voters who helped power President Obama to victory in the last two elections by casting itself as the party that protects personal liberty and pushes back against “big government surveillance.” 

“If we want to get the youth vote, it is not that we have to change our message,” Mr. Paul said. “They don’t care much about taxes or regulation, they don’t have that much money to care about. But they all have a cell phone. They all are on the internet. They do care about whether the government should be looking at their every search on the internet or listening to their phone calls or recording their phone records.”

Mr. Paul also said that the party could reach out to minority voters by pushing to ease the mandatory minimum prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders, which ruin people’s lives. He also said they could tap into the sense of injustice that blacks hold toward the criminal justice system by touting their opposition to indefinite detention of American citizens.

“If we become the party of justice, the party that believes that criminal law should be just, that penalties should be proportionate to the crime, I think we can get people to come to our party,” Mr. Paul said.

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