- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul gave a forceful defense Friday against using telephone records and other means without a warrant during a rally at Arizona State University.

“What I do on my phone, what you do on your phone and your phone records, I say it’s none of the government’s damn business,” Paul said, eliciting cheers and a few “Stand with Rand” chants.

He cited Thursday’s ruling by a federal appeals court that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the government surpasses what Congress has allowed.

“All of this was started by executive order. If I become president, on day one I’ll end it all,” Paul said.

He argued that gathering data on millions would not mean a better chance of capturing terrorists.

“You had a home-grown terrorist from Phoenix that was involved in a shooting,” said Paul, citing the recent shooting at Texas cartoon contest involving depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. “We had investigated him. But maybe we’re spending so damn much time on innocent people, that we’re not spending enough time going after the perpetrators.”

The remarks from the Kentucky senator at the Republican Party of Maricopa County event included a thinly veiled jab at U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Paul accused McCain of being willing to stain suspected terrorists without a trial.

Both Republicans have exchanged harsh words on foreign policy and national security.

McCain once called Paul one of the “wacko birds” for a filibuster over unmanned drone attacks on American soil. Paul called McCain “some old guy” who is a lapdog for President Barack Obama’s defense policy.

Paul said Friday he would prefer disagreements with the lawmakers not take a personal turn.

“I think it would be better probably just to have more of the debate and discussion about issues,” Paul said after his speech. “I’m more than willing to take it down a notch to that. But we’ve had a little bit of trouble doing that. But I think it’s mostly coming from the other side.”

McCain announced last month that he would seek re-election, stretching his Senate career beyond three decades.

State Sen. Kelli Ward, who is considering running against McCain, introduced Paul at the rally. Ward is running a “retire McCain” theme and says it’s time for fresh blood to represent the state in the U.S. Senate. But Paul stopped short of endorsing her.

“We haven’t made a decision about getting involved in the race. I don’t think she’s officially declared,” Paul said. “I have a great deal of respect for her she’s been part of the liberty movement for a while.”

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