Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said Thursday he thinks his call for smaller and less intrusive federal government that returns most powers to the states is beginning to resonate with voters.
He said he did well in Wednesday night’s Republican debate and wants more such events that give him the chance to show voters he’s the outsider, not the majority of the other GOP presidential candidates.
And he took a shot at current front-runner Donald Trump as well: “If we keep having debates, maybe people will come to their senses and realize we don’t need an entertainer.”
“I think I ticked him off,” Paul said.
Several analysts reviewing the three-hour debate concluded Trump didn’t do nearly as well as in the first debate. Not only Paul but Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina fired back at the bombastic Trump.
Paul said as the campaign continues, he thinks he’ll get more and more support and attention as the true outsider compared to the other candidates.
Paul said there’s a long list of intrusions by the federal government that should end and a laundry list of things the government should not be spending money on. He said both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of the constantly increasing spending that has the U.S. borrowing “a million dollars a minute.”
He cited several examples including spending $300,000 “studying Japanese quail to see if they are more sexually promiscuous on cocaine,” drawing loud laughter from the crowd of just more than 100 at Carson City’s Gold Dust West.
Paul said he would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, arguing there are some 9,000 health clinics where women can get health care — but don’t fund abortion — nationwide.
He said he would eliminate the federal Department of Education as well as the Commerce Department, which he termed “corporate welfare.” He said nearly all criminal law should be left to the states.
He said the federal government needs to cut off funding to issues it has no business controlling.
“The only way to determine what needs to be funded and what doesn’t need to be funded is to vote on individual appropriations bills,” Paul said. “We haven’t done that in 30 years.”
Appropriations measures are currently bundled into huge bills covering many subjects and programs, which Paul said effectively prevents Congress from picking and choosing what to pay for.
“If I’m elected president, I’m going to give power back to the states and the people,” he said.
He said there are things the federal government must provide — national security being the top of that list. But he said the country shouldn’t be so quick to go to war.
“Why don’t we elect people who are less likely to go to war,” he asked. “We don’t want to expend young lives in an endless series of wars.”
He said after 9/11 he supported going to war in Afghanistan but, “I think the war in Iraq was a mistake.”
“War is the last resort, not the first resort,” he said.
He said as a Libertarian, he has some differences form traditional conservatives — including he doesn’t think people caught using marijuana should be imprisoned. He said they should be treated, not put in expensive jails.
He also said the claim sequestration will leave the military defenseless “simply isn’t true.”
He said under sequestration, “we slowed down the rate of increase; we didn’t cut anything so don’t let Republicans tell defense is withering on the vine.”
Paul was to follow his Carson City stop with similar gatherings in Reno, Ely and finally Las Vegas Thursday and Friday.