Senator Rand Paul “the party has to change”
Today on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to Candy Crowley from the campaign trail about his hopes for shifting the balance of power in the Senate towards a Republican majority on Tuesday, the Ebola quarantine, and the 2016 presidential election.
Text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.
On the Republican brand’s appeal to minorities: “Our brand is so broken that we can’t even break through that wall that’s out there.”
On President Obama guaranteeing GOP success in the midterm elections: “I think the wind’s at our back. I think this election is going to be a referendum on the president. Even he acknowledged his policies will be on the ballot. And he will be indirectly on the ballot and there’s a great deal of unhappiness that feels like our country, that he promised he would be beyond things, that he was going to be a uniter, not a divider.”
On campaigning for the GOP: “I won’t deny that it would help me if I do decide to run for president, to travel to 32 states and to be part of helping the Republican team on board. But I also do it because whether I run or not — and I haven’t decided — but whether I run or not, I do want the Republican Party to be bigger and more successful because I think our philosophy will help the country more.”
On an Ebola quarantine: “the Libertarian in me is sort of horrified at the indefinitely detaining or retaining anyone without a trial.”
A full transcript is available after the jump.
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CROWLEY: We found Senator Rand Paul in Pennsylvania, where we sat down to talk politics and headlines. I asked Paul, a libertarian, about mandatory quarantines for health care workers who return to the U.S. after treating Ebola patients in Africa.
PAUL: Well, I think it’s interesting that the CDC and the president have downplayed this. The president says, you’re riding on a bus, you’re not going to get Ebola.
Well, if they’re asymptomatic, that’s true, but if someone’s symptomatic, obviously, you are at a great deal of risk riding on a bus with someone with Ebola.
CROWLEY: But she’s — she’s asymptomatic.
PAUL: Right, and that — there is a different story. So, it depends on your stage of the disease.
The other thing is, the CDC acknowledged that it can be transmitted through a sneeze. So, I think even they’re admitting that it’s contagious. So, when we get to the question of quarantine, it’s a tough question, because the libertarian in me is horrified at the idea of indefinitely detaining or detaining anyone without a trial.
One of the basic rights we inherited from the English and that we got from common law was the right of habeas corpus, to present the body. If the king were detaining you in the Tower of London or a governor or anybody was detaining you, you have to have recourse to a lawyer and to a judgment by…
CROWLEY: They had a lawyer.Well, They filed suit to get her out of New Jersey. Now she’s in Maine and again saying, I am not contagious. I should be allowed to move.
PAUL: Right. I think common…
CROWLEY: What do you think?
PAUL: Well, I think common sense would say that it makes a different whether or not you’re febrile, afebrile or asymptomatic.
CROWLEY: She doesn’t have a fever.
PAUL: Right. And, as the disease goes on, when you’re in the final stages or the real acute stages of Ebola, you’re incredibly contagious.
When you’re febrile, you’re beginning to be contagious. And so there is a concern. And I think there is a reasonable public concern to say, you know what? You really shouldn’t be going to the discotheque, you shouldn’t be going to the local bar, you shouldn’t be going to the local school cafeteria.
So, I think there are reasonable precautions. I think also the federal government should have stepped in even before all of this to try to have some travel restrictions on visas and with people returning, and to have a uniform way of accepting people back into our country.
Are we proud of nurses and doctors who risk their lives to treat people in Liberia and West Africa? Absolutely. And I think that’s the way she senses, that it’s a little bit of insult her service to confine her in a tent.
CROWLEY: Sure. And do you think it is?
PAUL: Well, yes, I think that we have to be very careful of people’s civil liberties, but I’m also not saying that the government doesn’t have a role in trying to prevent contagion.
So, there are exceptions to things. But the libertarian in me says that she has to have recourse to a lawyer, to a judge, and that if she is going to be confined, it has to be through a judicial process where she has the right to file a writ of habeas corpus or a right of saying to the king or to the government, why am I being detained and is it being approved lawfully?
Then there is a possibility that you can have some quarantine. There’s also a possibility, if you do it in a reasonable fashion, that maybe she would do it voluntarily, which is what — which would be the ideal situation.
CROWLEY: Ferguson, we have seen a lot of — and still the grand jury meets. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but there’s been a lot of leaking from someone, by someone, that indicates this maybe is not — quote — “a slam dunk,” an indictment against this police officer.
CROWLEY: You have been to Ferguson. I know you have talked to the minority community there. If no indictment is returned by this jury, what do you foresee for Ferguson?
PAUL: I want to see something destructive come out of this.
And when I went to Ferguson,I sensed that there’s an undercurrent of unease in Ferguson, but also in a lot of our big…
CROWLEY: Mistrust of police and the judicial system.
PAUL: Yes, yes, and really throughout the United States. This isn’t just Ferguson.
The war on drugs has had a disproportionate impact on African- Americans and Hispanics. White kids are using drugs also, but they’re not going to jail. Black kids, brown kids are populating our jails. It’s destroying our families. They sense it. And that’s why there’s this unease between police and the African-American community.
It’s also not a very integrated police force. I don’t have all the answers or know exactly why not, but I did want to hear from them. And I’m a big proponent of saying that the war on drugs needs to be changed dramatically and we need to quit saying that the answer is to put people in jail for a decade or two and throw away the key, and that’s the end of their life.
But the Ferguson case was about the killing of a young black man at the hands of a white cop. The details differ between the two sides. You have seen the rage that is in Ferguson as a result of what they say was bad treatment by police, a justice system that doesn’t work.
In this specific case, what would a no bill — what if the grand jury doesn’t indict this police officer? What does that mean for Ferguson?
PAUL: I have tried not to weigh in on the specifics of the case, because I don’t know the police officer, and it’s all secret and it’s grand jury. And I don’t want to be the federal guy that comes in and says, oh, I know what’s always right for a community.
But I do want to be the one who says that, let’s channel this into — the anger or the upset or the unease, let’s channel it into something positive. And so what I suggested when I was in Ferguson was, I suggested I want more people to vote. You want more people to vote.
I will help you get more people to vote. And the biggest thing impeding voting in our country — we have talked about voter I.D. and all that — that’s not the problem in our country. The problem is people who have had felony convictions are prevented from voting.
PAUL: And I have several pieces of legislation to try to allow people to vote. And I think if they channel their energy into registering to vote, Ferguson is over 60 percent African-American.
If they would register people to vote, they can have a bigger voice in their community and a constructive voice in the community.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. And people have told them that, but we’re — we’re talking about a community that feels that a young man was “murdered” — and I put that in quotes, but that’s the feeling there — that he was murdered by a white police officer, and if a — if there’s no bill, if there’s no indictment of this police officer, does it not undermine what is seen by the minority community as justice, and would you be able to sell that as justice?
I think that is a very difficult question and hard for someone outside — I’m not in the grand jury room. I don’t hear all the evidence. It’s hard for me. And I don’t want to malign the police or say that the police were OK. I want to be able to say that I want to try fix the overall unease in our country. CROWLEY: Long-term.
PAUL: Yes, and overall criminal justice.
I have six different bills to try to give people back the right to vote, to try to let you expunge your record, to try to treat this more as a health problem and less as an incarceration problem. This is an indirect way of addressing the unease in Ferguson. But I don’t have a specific answer where I can make everything right in Ferguson.
CROWLEY: Let’s talk about 2014. You have been out and about, more than 30 states, as I understand it. Will the Republicans take over control of the Senate?
PAUL: I think, in all likelihood, yes. I think the wind’s at our back. I think this election is going to be a referendum on the president. Even he acknowledged his policies will be on the ballot, and he will be indirectly on the ballot.
And there’s a great deal of unhappiness that feels like our country, that he promised he would be beyond things, that he was going to be a uniter, not a divider. But, you know, I called him a month ago, and I said, Mr. President, I will work with you on criminal justice. What I want you to do is try to help me bring American profit home, so we can create jobs here.
He voted for this in 2005, lower the tax rate, bring money home, create jobs. It’s a win-win for everybody, both parties. But I was disappointed that he chose to attack American corporations, attack American business, instead of saying, you know what? I will help you bring jobs home and we will do it together.
CROWLEY: You are right. Certainly, there are a lot of circumstances that, if you’re a Democrat, you’re looking at them and think, you know, unpopular president. History is generally against the party that has a president in a midterm that holds the Oval Office.
We’re seeing these individual polls. We also see that the Democrats had much tougher territory to defend than Republicans did. But you feel this is a referendum on the president. What does it say about Republicans, because a lot of these races, about 10 of them are still pretty darned close, which means that those Democrats have been able to survive in the worst of environments.
PAUL: Well, I think it shows that our country is pretty evenly divided.
And it tilts a little bit one way and a little bit the other way. But I think that, when you have a president — and then you Hillary Clinton saying the same thing, saying that businesses don’t create jobs, a lot of Americans are scratching their heads and saying, who do these people think create jobs if businesses don’t?
Do they think government creates jobs and that that’s how America became great? And I think there’s a fundamental philosophical debate in our country. But I sense a lot of people saying to themselves, you know what? I think, if we don’t understand businesses create jobs or we don’t understand that we want American money and businesses to come home, and we want to do something constructive, then maybe we need new leadership in the country.
So I think people are ready for new leadership.
CROWLEY: When we return, more with Senator Rand Paul and his tough-love approach to the Grand Old Party.
CROWLEY: Welcome back.
Senator Rand Paul was campaigning recently when he said bluntly of his Republican Party, “The brand sucks.” That’s a quote.
It brought me to this question.
CROWLEY: Senator, let’s start this segment talking about a famous line that I think we will see a lot: The GOP brand sucks.
CROWLEY: This, of course, is the party that you represent currently.
You have likened it to Domino’s, saying, hey, our crust sucks. The problem is that the brand is the brand. The product is something else.
CROWLEY: Is something wrong with the GOP product?
PAUL: I think what’s interesting about this is, when I say the brand sucks and that we need to recognize it, it’s that certain segments of our population, if I came up to you and you were an African-American young woman in a college, what are the chances you are going to say, oh, Republican, I want to join immediately?
Our brand isn’t so good. But if you get to our policies — for example, I have a policy to rejuvenate our inner cities by leaving a billion dollars in Detroit. And if I can get to that young person and say…
CROWLEY: Like enterprise zones?
If I can get to that young person and talk about the issues, I think Republicans have a chance. But our brand is so broken, we can’t even break through, you know, the wall that’s out there. And this is the same with Hispanic voters. It’s the same with young people in general.
But I think there are a lot of avenues for Republicans to break through. So, I have talked a lot about the right to privacy that I think universally resonates with young people. And I have talked to people of color to say, look, I’m a Republican who wants more people to vote, not less. I’m a person who believes that what we have tried for our cities isn’t working, but I want to try something new.
I’m someone who cares about poverty and long-term unemployment. And I have an idea that’s different than the Democrats. Will you listen to me?
CROWLEY: But if they listen to you, and you’re not the presidential candidate when all — when the Republican primary season is over, does that transfer to another presidential candidate? Are you making the case for a Rand Paul presidency?
PAUL: You know, I think when things begin to resonate, others will emulate things.
For example, I have been talking for several years now about how the war on drugs, we need to have fairer sentencing. We need to let people get back to work.
PAUL: There’s several governors talking about this now.
So I think good ideas will resonate and be replicated. So it’s not just about me, but I try to promote ideas that maybe the party will say, you know what? He is having success, and African-Americans are listening to him, Hispanics are listening, young people are listening.
And I think the fact that people invited me to 30 states because they thought I could help with undecided vote and independent vote means that other Republicans are recognizing the force of these kind of kind of ideas.
CROWLEY: So, why did do you this? Why did you make such a big effort, if not to set up a presidential run?
PAUL: Well, I won’t deny that it would help me, if I do decide to run for president, to have traveled to 32 states and to be part of helping the Republican team on board.
But I also do it because, whether I run or not — and I haven’t decided — but whether I run or not, I do want the Republican Party to be bigger and more successful, because I think our philosophy will help the country more. I think we have tried the big government way. We have tried the big tax way. We have tried all these regulations, but we’re suffering now because companies are actually fleeing America. It’s actually better to do business in Canada in many ways than America. It’s better to do business in Europe than America. We have to change that. And the Democrats have said oh, no, we don’t care. We’re just going to call American companies unpatriotic.
That, to me, is a disaster for us, and people should reject that wholesale.
CROWLEY: When you look at the beginning of your political career, you were a doctor prior to coming to the U.S. Senate. You certainly had a political upbringing with your father, Ron Paul, who ran for president a couple of times.
When you look at your, how you got here, it was as someone who was fighting the party from outside the party. Now you’re kind of the ultimate insider, because you’re going around. You’re helping Mitch McConnell from your home state of Kentucky, other what we would call mainstream Republicans, certainly incumbents.
Is this an effort to say, I am not the iconoclast Republican my dad was?
PAUL: Well, you know, I think that I genuinely believe that our party is significantly different in philosophy.
Within our party, there are differences. And I have tried to support the Republicans in the party who I think will be more dramatically for the program I’m for. But, also, when I see the differences between the parties, I think the Republican Party is a much better choice.
I also kind of laughingly say I’m for peace and commerce with all Republicans. And so I want to be someone who does bring the party together. And if you ever want to hold national office, I think you got to — not only bring your party together; you have got to then bring both parties and independents together to say, we want what’s best for America.
And, really, I have still had some criticism from my party.
PAUL: And, I mean, I have said evolve, adapt or die.
I think the party has to change. But I also am not stuck and trapped by my party, and that I will do what’s right regardless of what party I belong to.
CROWLEY: And — and — but is it — to the point of the question, is it an effort to say, I’m not the politician my dad was?
PAUL: I don’t think I would — I would say that.
What I would say is, I am who I am, and it’s me trying to present who I am. But it’s never, in my mind, sort of to contrast with my father. I have a great deal of respect for my father. And my father, I think, was probably one of the most genuine people ever to occupy office in Washington, and forthright beyond all belief.
And people really liked his honesty. So, I would never want to separate from that. But I am my own person. And so I present myself in a way that I think is best to try to expand the message to more people.
CROWLEY: One of the things that we see in the political realm right now is the beginning of the shaping of 2016.
We have actually probably seen it for the last couple of years. And one of the storylines is, we have learned our lesson. A guy that was in the Senate for two — this is coming from your side — a guy that was in the Senate for two years, had no executive experience is not ready to be president.
You have been in the Senate for four years. Prior to that, you were a doctor. I think you have described yourself to me at one point as a small-town doctor.
What in that resume is different than the president, the current sitting president?
PAUL: I think it’s sort of a sideshow to say which occupation you were before.
You know, we have had good senators. We have had bad senators. We have had good governors. We have had bad governors. I reminded people that Jimmy Carter was a governor that many of us didn’t think was that great of a president. So…
CROWLEY: But they — he had had executive experience. I think that’s where this…
PAUL: Right, but, I mean, our judgment was that it wasn’t that great of a presidency, from our point of view.
So, I think, really, which position you occupied isn’t so important as I think we want people with wisdom. I think we want people who are well-read and steeped in history, people who understand tradition of both parties and of uniting the country.
We also — when you think about it, one of the most important things is, you want someone who is in charge of our nuclear arsenal who is not going to be rash, or reckless or eager to get into war. So, I think people are looking for someone who is reasonable.
But I think whether you have been a governor — they told me I couldn’t be a senator because I had just been a doctor. But, as I have gotten to know people in Washington, we actually need more people who are not career politicians. We need more people from outside, not more people from inside.
CROWLEY: And, finally, your advice to Senator Mitch McConnell. I know you are going to go down and campaign for him. If he — if he comes back and he is the leader of the majority party, the first thing you want him to do is?
PAUL: I want him to invite American money to come home.
There’s a way we can reduce taxes, bring a trillion dollars home, do it quickly, so we can start stimulating the economy and get people back to work. But I would do it in January, because the longer you wait after an election, the less your mandate is. And it takes a while for things to work.
But if we would lower that tax, bring that American — and those American jobs home, I think you would see an economic boom in our country, and I think Republicans would then get the credit for doing something productive.
CROWLEY: Senator Rand Paul, thanks for joining us. Happy trails.
PAUL: Thank you.