Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (James Crisp/Associated Press)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (James Crisp/Associated Press)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is in Silicon Valley this week talking to high-tech donors.

In an interview, he tells Wired’s Spencer Ackerman:

One of the reasons I come to California is that the Republican party seems to have given up on California, and my message to those in California is that we’re going to compete nationally as a party, and that includes California. And the way we’re going to compete is by running people for office who can appreciate some issues that attract young people and independents: civil liberties, as well as a less aggressive foreign policy, not putting people in jail for marijuana, a much more tolerant type of point of view. If you have Republican candidates like that then I think all of a sudden you’d find California back in play.

We’ll see, but one thing voters in all states look for is action, not just rhetoric. Moreover, he claims his civil libertarian positions don’t weaken his commitment to national security, but we’ve yet to see him assert a muscular position on any foreign policy issue, even when it comes to Iran. While they have him, the high-tech executives might want to quiz Rand Paul and suggest he’ll need to do better than talk a good game:

  • Is he going to vote for reasonable immigration reform or insist on some unattainable bill so he can vote no and stick with anti-immigrant right-wingers?
  • Is he willing to spend federal money, even redirected money from other programs, on basic science research?
  • What will he do about China’s cyberterrorism?
  • What would he do about the people in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp who can’t be tried and can’t be released?
  • If tax reform is on the table, would he favor eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, which would have a big impact on California taxpayers?
  • If the Defense of Marriage Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, would he vote to repeal it?
  • Does he believe it is a legitimate use of federal power to power to prohibit discrimination in housing and employment by private owners?

Rand Paul has raised some interesting issues and suggested a markedly different approach to foreign policy than presidents of both parties. What isn’t clear is how these would work in practice. His audiences in California and elsewhere should start pushing for firmer, more specific answers. If he wants their money, they are entitled to at least that.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.