Sen. Rand Paul says his free-market, pro-liberty views are really not that extreme — and people should think twice before trashing his dad.
Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, toured the major talk shows on Sunday, shortly after New York Times readers found a lengthy profile on the senator’s “mixed inheritance” from his famous father, Ron Paul, in their morning papers.
The elder Mr. Paul has run for president and is a hero of sorts in libertarian circles. But his orbit has included intellectuals who’ve sympathized with the Confederacy’s struggle during the Civil War and espoused controversial views about the Civil Rights Act.
Both Rand Paul and his father have distanced themselves from those views and say their family is often misunderstood. On Sunday, the senator said his policies make perfect sense.
“I think there always are perceptions of what is extreme versus what is mainstream,” the Kentucky Republican told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’ve always said that, you know, spending what comes in, balancing your budget, is actually the very reasonable sort of proposal, and spending a trillion dollars you don’t have is an extreme proposal. So really, it’s a matter of getting our message out.”
The freshman senator, considered to be a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, catapulted to the Senate during the tea party wave of 2010 and has grabbed headlines for his vociferous criticism of U.S. drone policy and the National Security Agency’s sweeping spying programs. Along the way, he’s had to fire an aide who once spoke admiringly of John Wilkes Booth and explain away claims of plagiarism as the result of sloppiness.
Mr. Paul’s most noteworthy political moment of the last year was a 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor, in which he demanded clarification of the government’s drone policy and whether or not the flying machines could be used on targets on U.S. soil.
Now, he’s organizing a class-action lawsuit against the NSA, arguing the government has no right to collect troves of U.S. citizens’ phone records without a warrant. The secretive programs came to light in a series of leaks by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who is holed up in Moscow to avoid prosecution in the United States.
“I think our lawsuit will have great ramifications and I think it’ll make it to the Supreme Court,” Mr. Paul told CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley.”
He said he confers with Democrats who share his concerns on a regular basis, even if they aren’t about to sign onto the lawsuit.
Mr. Paul said his use of the word “tyranny” to describe recent actions by the U.S. government may be a bit strong, “but it makes people sit up and take notice.”
“I would say that there are times when we are going beyond what we should be doing when we’re exceeding the restraints of the Constitution, that there is a form of tyranny, and we need to be aware of that,” he said.
As for his dad, he says tread lightly. Mr. Paul noted that his father has wide appeal, attracting college crowds in the thousands in both the liberal stronghold of Berkeley, Calif., and at Liberty University in Virginia, one of the nation’s most conservative institutions.
“Don’t be trashing my dad too much,” he told NBC. “That’s my dad, you know.”