Presidential hopeful Rand Paul made an end-run around the GOP debate by going straight to viewers on Twitter, Periscope, and Facebook on Thursday night.
“The great thing about modern media is if you don’t like what’s on TV, turn the TV off,” Paul said at Twitter headquarters in New York. “Turn on your computer. Get some real answers to some real questions.”
Sen. Paul was subjected to the undercard in the North Charleston, South Carolina Republican debate on Thursday night, but rather than debate alongside Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum, Paul spoke to listeners directly at his #RandRally for a little over 45 minutes about his positions on the U.S. Constitution, executive power, foreign policy, debt, the Federal Reserve, terrorism, and much more.
Paul reached about 7 million people total over his two-day NYC media tour, according to CNN, which was surely more than the meager 2 million people the undercard debate averaged Thursday night, and more than the November GOP undercard debate (4.7 million viewers) and the January Fox Business debate combined.
The figure excludes the number of people he reached through last night’s #RandRally.
Paul received 370,371 views on Facebook alone for all three videos, at the time of this writing. At the debate’s start Rand Paul had the second-highest follower growth among all candidates and the GOP, according to Twitter Government, although he did not maintain that place by the debate’s end.
On healthcare, he said that we should apply capitalism to it because capitalism “produces the most amount of goods” at the cheapest prices, just like it does in other industries where freedom reigns.
In fact, that was his main theme throughout the night: apply more freedom to various industries where the government is heavily involved.
He also said that before Obamacare, which was signed into law in 2010, “about half of healthcare was given and distributed by the government,” which contributed to the high cost of care.
He also addressed candidates on both sides.
On Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Paul said their differences are “grander than our similarities.”
“Those who believe you can get something for free, or something for nothing, they just aren’t looking hard enough to see that somebody actually has to pay for it,” Paul said.
At the open, Paul’s assistant read a message from a user that said “Hello from Canada.”
“We will have some questions about Canada in this probably because this is the first time we’ve had one of your countrymen running for the presidency,” Paul joked. He was referring to Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who some scholars say is not constitutionally eligible to run for president and others who without question say that he is.
Paul said that there are people on stage who have “no earthly idea what the nuclear triad is” or what to do with the U.S.’s nuclear weapons. “I’m talking about you Donald.”
“You have people on the stage who will tell you tonight they want to make the sand glow,” he said in reference to Ted Cruz’s recent comments that he would carpet bomb ISIS. “The main problem with that strategy is, you know what, you may well end up creating more terrorists than you can kill,” Paul continued.
He said candidates who want to increase defense spending for wars are “not conservative.”
On the War on Drugs, Paul said we should admit it is a “failure,” and that drug addiction should be treated as a health problem, not an incarceration problem, adding that money used on prisons could be redirected toward rehabilitation.
On Day One, Paul said that he would repeal 10,000 executive orders from “previous presidents” that put a burden on the U.S. economy. On spending, he said he would spend exactly what the government takes in taxes.
Both parties have the potential to bankrupt the country, he said. On the right, by those who “want unlimited military spending”; and on the left, by those “who want unlimited domestic spending,” per his comments in a pre-debate message.
Paul expressed concern that Republicans let the current president off the hook because the next (presumably Republican) president would be limited in making war.
“In fact, Republicans recently said we’re not going to pass any authorization for any kind of war in the Middle East because we’re afraid we might limit the next president,” he said. “Well, precisely. That’s what you’re supposed to do,” he continued.
Interestingly, he said that terrorists are “very weak people” that incite terror only because they can’t defeat a larger enemy in any military battle.
“We do not have to fear terrorists,” he said. “And if we let our fear get the better of ourselves, if we forget who we are as Americans, if we let the Bill of Rights slip away from us because of fear of terrorism, that that’s a great loss.”
On Marco Rubio, Paul said his biggest concern with him is that “he’s fallen into the trap of the neoconservatives who believe that we should remake the world in our image,” but he also said Hillary Clinton is a neoconservative too.
To bolster his case, Rand cited the libertarian Cato Institute’s “Presidential Candidate Intervention Meter,” which scored candidates’ calls to intervene more heavily if they called for “ground force” and global calls to fight terrorism, and less if they called for “air power,” and even less for “no fly zones.”
It ranked Hillary Clinton as the most-interventionist remaining candidate (Senator Lindsey Graham was number one, but dropped out), Rubio as the second most-interventionist candidate, and Paul the least.
“The Democrats need to admit they’ve got one on their side also,” Paul said.
Paul called New Jersey Governor Chris Christie “the World War III candidate,” citing Christie’s explicit statement to shoot down Russian airplanes if there was a no-fly zone in Syria.
On religious freedom, Paul said the government should leave people and businesses alone. But he almost made this unique statement:
One of the biggest dangers to religious liberty that’s coming is many people look at a tax deduction and they say “Oh, that’s the government’s money.” If you acknowledge, or you somehow believe or accept the notion that if you get a tax deduction or a tax credit that it’s the government’s money, then the government can control that money. That’s the first step towards controlling churches because they’ll say your donation is tax deductible, therefore we’re going to control it because it’s “the government’s money.” I don’t believe that for a second.”
He also discussed what kind of Supreme Court appointee he would appoint, the NSA, the Federal Reserve, and the militarization of the police.
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