Presidential hopeful Rand Paul came to Arizona Friday to drum up supports, preach individual liberty – and continue his war of words with the state’s senior senator by taking a few more verbal whacks at him.
In a speech at Arizona State University, Paul cheered Thursday’s ruling by a federal appellate court declaring illegal the practice of the National Security Agency of harvesting and permanently storing who all U.S. residents call and how long they talked. He also provided his audience largely of students at ASU students with a history lesson, going back to the English kings, about the legal requirement for individual warrants and how that led to the Founding Fathers crafting the Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless and unreasonable searches.
And Paul, a senator from Kentucky, told boosters that even amid concerns of national security they need to respect all of the Bill of Rights.
“Every Republican seems to be good with the Second Amendment,” Paul said. “But if you want to defend the Second Amendment, you’ve got to defend the Fourth Amendment, you’ve got to defend the First Amendment.”
The appellate court ruling did not halt the NSA practices, with the judges noting that the law is set to expire, meaning Congress will have to revisit it soon. But Paul said the spying really started with an executive order.
“If I become president, on Day 1 I’ll end it all,” he said.
That provided the entre to take some slaps at McCain, though he did not use the name of his fellow senator.
“You will hear some voices, some emanating from Arizona, that say ‘Well, how will we catch terrorists?’ “ Paul said. “Well, maybe we could rely on the Constitution for a few hours.
He said that involves focusing on the folks who are known threats – and leaving everyone else alone.
“I had this debate with a certain senator from a certain state that starts with an A, and it was about whether or not an American citizen could be detained without a trial,” Paul told his audience. The response from this unnamed senator, he said, was it would even be OK to send a U.S. citizen to the military prison at Guantanamo “if they’re dangerous.”
“It sort of begs the question: Who gets to decide if they’re dangerous or not?” he said.
Paul also said those who are proponents of international involvement in the name of national security – again, not mentioning McCain by name – clearly do not understand what that has produced.
“They supported the war in Libya, they supported sending arms to the Islamic rebels in Syria,” he said.
“They have supported every one of these wars that’s come down and we’ve gotten the wrong outcome,” Paul continued. “We’re less safe, there are more jihadists, more radical Islam and more problems because we toppled secular governments and we get radical religious governments.”
McCain and Paul have been feuding for years.
In 2013, McCain referred to Paul and two other senators as “wacko birds,” though he later apologized. But just last month, McCain said on a political talk show that Paul “just doesn’t understand” foreign policy.
“He has displayed this kind of naivete since he came to the Senate,” McCain said.
Paul shot back earlier this month in an interview with the Washington Post.
“Remember there was some old guy, I can’t remember his name, who called us wacko birds?” he said. “How wacky is it to be somebody who actually believes in the Constitution and all of the Bill of Rights?”
Paul was introduced by state Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City.
Ward is weighing whether to mount a primary challenge to McCain’s already announced 2016 reelection bid. But Paul made no mention of that race and Ward told Capitol Media Services she had not sought his endorsement.
After the speech, Paul brushed by reporters despite event organizers saying he would answer questions.