Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) promised during a campaign appearance in Grand Rapids, Mich, on Monday to protect Americans from their federal government if they elect him to run their federal government.
“Rand Paul is a once-in-a-generation sort of candidate,” Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) told the audience of Republicans as he introduced Paul and announced his endorsement of Paul’s presidential campaign.
“Over the past several years, we’ve tried the other way,” Amash added. “We’ve tried to be the party with candidates who don’t really stand for enough.”
Paul agreed with Amash that the GOP has to “figure out how win again. There are 18 states we haven’t won in 30 years of presidential elections.”
He said Michigan’s recent election history is a perfect example of the Republican Party’s struggle to win the White House.
Although the GOP controls all executive and legislative branches of Michigan’s government, Barack Obama skated to victory in the state in 2008 and 2012.
“To win again we are going to have to be bigger, better and bolder,” said Paul. “We don’t need to dilute our message. There are some in the party who say we need to be more like the Democrats. I say the heck with that.”
Paul said the GOP needs to begin by backing the Bill of Rights as he does, every line, every stanza, every time, with no exceptions.
He said the nation knows the Republican Party defends the Second Amendment. If you get 10, 20 or even 30 Republicans running for office they are going to all support the Second Amendment.
Paul said he, too, supports and defends the Second Amendment.
“And if you ever come to my house unannounced, you will find out just how much I support the Second Amendment.”
But Paul said gun rights was just a typical GOP hot-button issue, one that neither surprises nor inspires those who may not already identify with the Republican Party.
“We need to be the party that is for the whole Bill of Rights,” he said. “If you are going to be for the Second Amendment, you have to be for the First Amendment, you have to be for the Fourth Amendment.”
The last amendment Paul mentioned, the Fourth, is intended to protect the privacy of Americans. It’s critical to both Paul and Amash, who have led the fight against what they see as government spying on citizens.
And that is where Paul said he differs from mainstream Republicans “like the senator from Arizona who called us (he and Amash) a couple of wacko birds.”
Paul said government spying on Americans is something that he would not tolerate as president and promised to stop the wholesale collection of Americans’ electronic phone and credit card records.
“Somebody’s got to wake the government up and say, ‘You can’t collect everyone’s records all the time, and think that is not an invasion of our privacy and a violation of our Fourth Amendment,’” said Paul. “I say it stops on Day One. (If elected) I will stop it by executive order.”
“The government has no business in your home, no business in your church, and I will fight to keep them out of it.”
Paul also spoke against the government confiscating personal property from criminal suspects before conviction. He said Attorney General Loretta Lynch became famous for seizing more than $1 million in assets from people arrested on drug charges before they went to trial.
“It’s poor people. It’s African-Americans. It’s poor whites. It’s people who don’t have the resources to fight the government,” said Paul. “Civil asset forfeiture should require a conviction.”
Without specifically mentioning protests against police brutality, Paul said the American system of justice can be unfair to some people. He pointed to the War on Drugs as evidence of that assertion.
“White kids are doing drugs at the same rate as black kids,” said Paul. “But everybody in prison is black or brown.”
Paul also told the story of Kalief Browder, an African-American teenager who was arrested on suspicion of robbery by New York City police.
Browder, who was 16 years old the day he was arrested, spent nearly three years in a Riker’s Island prison cell without trial, and tried to commit suicide four times. Thirty-three months after his arrest, Browder was released with no explanation.
No trial was ever held. And certainly he was never convicted of a crime. But three years of Browder’s life had been taken away by the government.
“You wonder why people are unhappy in our cities?” said Paul. “There is no excuse for violence. But the thing is, there is an unhappiness. We who don’t live in poverty have to start learning to understand where it is coming from.”
Paul is convinced once Republicans do a better job of protecting Americans from their government and understand the reason that others who are not like themselves are unhappy, the GOP will win at the national level, again.
“We win again,” Paul said, “when we become the party that cares about Kalief Browder as much as we care about the Second Amendment.”