The CPAC audience was packed to hear the winner of the confab’s straw poll the previous two years, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) didn’t disappoint his faithful.
Paul’s address was delayed by Senate votes, and he showed up in jeans with rolled-up shirt sleeves to ask, “Will you, lovers of liberty, rise to the occasion?”
They did rise to their feet, waving “stand with Rand” signs distributed outside the ballroom.
“When politicians accept censorship, when politicians accept imprisonment without trial, when politicians accept torture, even of the innocent, as necessary, then lovers of liberty must rise,” the senator said. “We must rise and stand with our forefathers who stared down the king. We must rise as free men and women and reclaim our birthright. We must protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies — foreign and domestic!”
Paul declared “our freedom is at risk from a Supreme Court that fails to protect our liberty.”
“In the mistake of the century, Justice Roberts affirmed the power of government to force you to buy insurance. Justice Roberts argued that we must presume Obamacare constitutional,” he said. “I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t we presume liberty? Just as we are presumed innocent, so too we should be presumed free!”
The ophthalmologist vowed to “make it my mission” to repeal “every last bit” of Obamacare.
“To defend our country, we need to gather intelligence on the enemy. But when the Intelligence Director lies to Congress, how are we to trust them?” Paul said. “Are we to trust them to collect and hold every American’s phone records? I say, that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business!”
Paul took plenty of shots at presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, arguing the former secretary of State’s “abdication of responsibility, her refusal to provide an adequate defense for Benghazi, her dereliction of duty should forever preclude her from higher office.”
“It’s time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire,” he added.
Paul said he envisions the perfect national defense as “unparalleled, undefeatable, and unencumbered by nation building.”
“We must realize, though, that we do not project strength by borrowing money from China to send it to Pakistan. It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting ‘death to America’ in countries that receive our foreign aid. I say it must end. I say not one penny more to these haters of America.”
Chants of “President Paul” interrupted the senator’s speech.
He talked about the “two Americas” described by Martin Luther King Jr. and the “undercurrent of unease” he found on his trips to “trips to Ferguson, Detroit, Atlanta, and Chicago. “…Those of us who have enjoyed the American Dream must break down the wall that separates us from ‘the other America.'”
Paul brought up the case of Kalief Browder, a Bronx teen who spent three years at Rikers Island without charge after being accused of taking a backpack.
“It is not the desire for wealth that drives us — what drives us is the desire for freedom,” he said. “The history of man is a history of men and women striving to restrain the power of government and expand the realm of freedom.”