Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said the best way to grow the Republican party is to “pay attention to some of the liberty issues” that appeal to all sides of the political debate.
Speaking at the Liberty Political Action Conference, Paul said that fighting to uphold the Constitution “isn’t about President Obama, it really isn’t. It isn’t about who the current president is. It’s about [not] allowing anybody to accumulate that much power.”
Paul said that the Republican party can win on liberty issues such as war, surveillance, indefinite detention and mandatory minimums.
“Does anyone remember Charlie Sheen when he was kind of going crazy last year?” Paul asked. “He was going around, jumping around saying 'winning, winning, we're winning.' Well, I kind of feel like that. We are winning. And I'm not on drugs but we're winning, I think we really are.”
On Syria, Paul said that Republicans “had something really extraordinary happen. We had a debate and I think we won the debate. We really won the debate.”
Paul was right, at least according to recent polls that show most Americans oppose military action in Syria. Paul said that his office had received thousands of phone calls from constituents opposing military action in Syria - and “virtually no” calls in support of intervention.
The problem, Paul said, is that Americans are asking themselves whether bombing the Assad regime will make him more or less likely to use chemical weapons. And the answer is unclear.
Paul also wondered if after the U.S. became involved militarily in Syria, if Russia or Iran would step in as well?
Paul pointed to the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, and the outrage that Americans across the country felt when they found out that their phone call and metadata information were being collected.
“When you say you're for the right to privacy, I think we expand who we are as the Republican Party, we bring people in,” Paul said.
Obama has been losing support among younger voters in surveys since the NSA programs were exposed, according to Paul.
“They don't care so much about taxes or regulations,” Paul said. “They don't have that much money to care about. But they all have a cell phone and they're all on the Internet. They do care about whether the government should be looking at their searches on the Internet or listening to their phone calls or recording their phone records."
The Republican party should become “the party of privacy” by rejecting big government surveillance, he said.
Paul urged the Republican establishment to embrace the libertarian wing of the Republican party, and said libertarians were no longer a “detriment” to the party.
“I think it’s actually – we’ve come full circle and it really is the way the Republican party will grow,” Paul said.
“I think if we approach these issues with passion and zeal, passion and zeal to defend basic justice, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, I think we will be the winning party.”