Rand Paul talks about how to expand GOP base to tea party audience

When Rand Paul started speaking at the Freedom Summit in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, it was clear that the audience had been waiting for this all morning. Earlier speeches had been punctuated by intermittent laughs and boos at Jeb Bush and Kathleen Sebelius alike, but the audience interaction was near constant during the Kentucky senator's speech.

His message at the summit mostly revolved around how to get his policies and the concerns of the movement adopted by the Republican Party writ large in a way that would expand the population of people the GOP can appeal to.

The "poobahs in charge of the party who want to dilute our message," Paul said.

"I for one," Paul said. "I will not wilt in the face of adversity, I will stand and fight them at every point."

What the party should do instead, he said, is expand their message. His prescription for doing this, was unsurprisingly adopting more of his stances of civil liberties — fighting National Security Agency data collection and lessening sentences for drug crimes, for example.

Fitting in with Americans for Prosperity's focus on fiscal issues, he also had a plan for how the Republican Party can attract new people with economic issues and "hit those who haven't been listening."

He said the Republican Party can't be "the party of fat cats, rich guys and Wall Street."

"Our movement has never been about plutocrats," Paul says, but that is how "the other side paints us."

He said that the way his ideas on how to decrease unemployment resonated with young people at the Conservative Political Action Committee -- where young libertarians make up a considerable number of attendees -- and at Berkeley -- which he sought to contrast as the home of young liberals -- were a sign that they were ideas worth adopting for a party that needs to expand its base.

These kids, he said, "they don't have money. We have to talk to people what they care about."

He characterized the Obama administration as giving out "free stuff" and yet not helping people get out of unemployment — a similar accusation to the one Mitt Romney leveled against the president during the 2012 presidential campaign

He railed against other conservatives in Washington who say they are for "revenue-neutral tax reform" and little else. "I want nothing to do the timidity of revenue-neutral tax reform," he said. "I want nothing to do with budgets that never balance."

All of these things, he summed up as "hogwash." He also called caring about the Second Amendment and not the Fourth Amendment" was also "hogwash." Many things he disagreed with in Washington were dismissed as "hogwash," to the delight of the crowd.


Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) clenches his first as he speaks during the inaugural Freedom Summit meeting for conservative speakers in Manchester, N.H. (Lucas Jackson/ Reuters)

At a news conference after his speech, Paul discussed privacy issues in more depth.

He said that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be vulnerable on privacy issues during the 2016 presidential campaign, because of her role in the Obama administration.

He also answered questions about Jeb Bush's "act of love" comments on immigration, which inspired boos from the Freedom Summit earlier in the day, saying his "remarks were well-intentioned. I don't fault him for that.

However, he added, you can't invite every person who loves someone in America to America, he added.

He wouldn't speculate whether Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's resignation was a result of 2014 midterm worries.

"She's tired and had to deal with some grief the past few months, I'm guessing," he said.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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Jaime Fuller | April 12