Most accounts from last night’s GOP debate, the official one, not the Trump one, had Rand Paul down as the winner, including TIME, declaring “Paul took full advantage of his primetime slot.”
Perhaps Paul’s most powerful spot came when he declared that he is the only candidate for the “liberty vote.”
Paul took a swipe at Ted Cruz, noting that the Texas Senator skipped the Audit the Fed vote after Cruz claimed that he could attract libertarian support.
Paul urged that the liberty vote will “stay in the family,” a direct nod to his father Ron Paul.
When asked by moderator Bret Baier “Did you make a mistake by not more fully embracing your father politically at the beginning of the campaign?” Paul provided a commanding answer.
“There’s probably no person I respect more in the country or in recent history than my father,” Paul said.
“I think he was probably the most honest man in politics that we’ve ever seen in a generation, and so in no way have I ever said that I don’t embrace my father or love my father or appreciate everything that he’s done for the country.”
Paul then clarified his ‘liberty vote’ credentials by criticizing bulk National Security Agency (NSA) metadata collection, saying that “the bulk collection of your phone data and the invasion of your privacy did not stop one terrorist attack. If we want to collect the records of terrorists, let’s do it the old-fashioned way,” by using the fourth amendment.
Paul also slammed the war on drugs, saying it has “disproportionately affected our African American community.”
“Drug use is about equal between white and black,” Paul said, “but three out of four people in prison are black or brown.”
The Kentucky Senator also spoke about the government engaging in overcriminalization, noting “I’ve been a believer in Congress about trying to bring about criminal justice reform.”
Paul was the only candidate qualified to give a detailed and nuanced answer to a question regarding criminal justice.
“I’ve been trying to look for solutions to our criminal justice system,” he noted. “One thing I discovered in Ferguson was that one-third of the budget in the city of Ferguson was getting reaped by civil fines.” He continued, “People were being fined to death. You or I, or many people in this audience, if we get [a] $100 fine, we can survive it. If you’re living on the edge of poverty and you get [a] $100 fine, or your car towed, a lot of times you lose your job.”
Other Paul highlights included Paul’s thoughts on abortion, which he said is “always wrong.”
“I think it would be better the less abortions we have, so the more states that we have that made abortion illegal, the better, as far as trying to save and preserve lives,” Paul said.
Paul also blasted Hillary Clinton, noting that she has taken “millions and millions of dollars from regimes in the middle east that treat women like cattle.”
“she can’t be a champion of women’s rights at the same time she’s got this that is always lurking out there, this type of behavior.” Paul stated.
While the other candidates used their final statements to attack each other, Paul focused on his fiscal policy.
“I’ve gotten to do some incredible things. Got to be on the floor of the Senate. And it has been amazing to me,” Paul said. “But the thing that is most important to me and caused me to run for office is I’m worried about the country and how much debt we’re adding.” he concluded.
And libertarian Rand is back!
— J.D. Tuccille (@JD_Tuccille) January 29, 2016