“They’ve got the votes inside the Beltway, but we have the votes outside the Beltway,” Paul said.
Paul’s trip here was designed to be teeming with symbolism as he prepares for what he calls a fight for the Fourth Amendment. Paul held a question and answer session with a Philadelphia radio host at the Constitution Center, where the Bill of Rights is displayed, followed by a press conference in the shadow of Independence Hall with sign-waving campaign supporters.
“Our founding fathers would be appalled to know that we are writing one single warrant and collecting everyone’s phone records all of the time,” Paul said, reiterating a call for President Obama to end the bulk collection of phone records in the wake of a judge’s ruling that it violated the Patriot Act.
Paul said that he would vote no on the USA Freedom Act, a compromise bill that would stop the government from collecting data but allow phone companies to keep it, because he is afraid it could actually expand government power. Speaking to reporters after his events, Paul repeated an assertion he first made in January: that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Edward Snowden should share a prison cell.
"It would probably be just and informative to put Clapper and Snowden in the same cell," he said.
Paul has been shifting to the right on foreign policy as he tries to win the Republican nomination, and he did so again Monday, asserting that the 2007 troop surge in Iraq worked.
“Whether or not the surge worked, obviously it worked. It was a military tactic, and it worked,” Paul said. “In fact, some of the ideas from the surge could be used again.”
The assertion puts Paul on the opposite end of the spectrum from his father, who once called the view that the surge was working "propaganda," and more aligned with prospective 2016 rival Jeb Bush, who said the increase in troops was "one of the most heroic acts of courage politically that any president’s done."
Paul also used the stop here to assert that his campaign would be competitive in Philadelphia and other cities if he were the nominee. Paul has called for an overhaul of the criminal justice system and the creation of zones in economically depressed areas where income and corporate taxes would be lowered.
“I’ll ask Hillary Clinton, ‘What have you done for criminal justice?’” he said. “Your husband passed all of the laws that put a generation of black men in prison.”
Some of Paul's answers here seemed to hold special appeal for urban liberals who have a libertarian bent. He sidestepped a question on abortion by asserting that he “didn’t run for office because of this issue” and that it should be left to the states. He said he is a Republican who could “cause [Democrats] to switch” parties: Democrats have taken African American votes for granted, he said, and he supports criminal justice reform and the idea that the war on drugs has disproportionately affected young black men.
Paul was across the river from Camden, N.J., where President Obama announced that he would limit military equipment sales to police.
“I see no reason why a 20-ton mine resistant ambush protection vehicle should ever roll down any city in our country. The president can change some of this through executive order, and I commend him for doing so,” he said, noting he has introduced a bill in Congress to change the process.
“There is no reason that the police force should be the same as the army. It’s different. It’s a tough job for both,” he said.
In the wake of a deadly Amtrak accident here, Paul said that America’s railroads should be privatized.
“I’m looking at the easement and thinking: Imagine if we could sell that and let a real company put up a fast train,” he said.