Can the Civil Liberties Argument Save Rand Paul?
It seems like every story I’ve posted this week revolves around the terrorist attack last Friday in Paris. The fact of the matter is that it was a huge event and in the midst of a presidential campaign, it’s going to change the trajectory of the race and the primary focus, at least in the short term. While some candidates, such as Donald Trump, are floating ideas about registering Muslims with the government and shutting down rogue mosques in the United States, other candidates, like Rand Paul, are taking the opposite tact in hammering the civil liberties argument and urging restraint from giving the Federal government more power.
Report from CNN:
Rand Paul says it’s “bulls–t” to argue that U.S. government surveillance needs to be ramped up as a result of the Paris attacks.
At a campaign event at George Washington University, the Kentucky senator told the crowd that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone record data hasn’t been stopped, despite a judge’s order, due to a six-month window to end the program.
“So when they stand up on television and say the tragedy in Paris means you have to give up your liberty, we need more phone surveillance — bulls–t!” Paul said.
Paul’s libertarian leanings have been at the center of his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He has opposed U.S. intervention in the Middle East as well as government surveillance programs.
He also has called for a stoppage to the visa waiver program allowing European citizens to travel to the U.S. freely, saying we should only allow Global Entry travelers, who get a background check, to enter freely.
He reiterated that position Thursday to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“When a whole section of the world is saying they want to come here and attack us … we have to be careful,” Paul said. “It’s hard to tell friend from foe.”
I would expect this to be Paul’s opening in the next debate to hammer Trump on this issue. Is it constitutional, let alone “conservative,” to call for a government registry of a certain religious or ethnic group? That’s the question Paul will ask and Trump will have to formulate an answer, I’m sure it will be along the lines of keeping America safe by any means necessary.
With that being said, Paul will probably have to get in line behind a few other candidates who will use the same line of attack about the constitutionality of some of Trump’s statements this week.