Politics & Government

Rand Paul talks at UK about filibuster, guns, immigration

Paul remained vague on presidential plans but said his trip to Iowa in May is important.
Paul remained vague on presidential plans but said his trip to Iowa in May is important. Herald-Leader

On March 6, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul went to work without any particular plans, certainly none that included making a speech for 13 hours straight.

"I didn't call my wife; I didn't have my best shoes on," he said during a speech Wednesday afternoon at the University of Kentucky. "It was pretty much just spontaneous, and I think that's why people became interested in it."

That 13-hour filibuster, ostensibly to block the nomination of John Brennan to be head of the Central Intelligence Agency, became a wide-ranging (and long-ranging) discussion of U.S. drone policy, specifically whether drones could be used on U.S. citizens within the country's borders.

"This was about the limitation of power," Paul said. "To me the question is, do you believe you have the power to drone someone in the U.S.?

"This to me is an amazingly important battle and something we should stand up for, and we're united on the left and the right."

From drones, Paul moved through a litany of his beliefs and plans, all part of a breezy, informal 20-minute talk sponsored by BB&T and the Gatton School of Business and Economics.

■ On entitlement reform: Maybe young people should be allowed to opt out of Social Security.

■ On immigration: The U.S. needs a system that provides workers with visas, but no welfare, and no right to vote.

■ On his economic plans: America needs a 17 percent flat tax for both business and income that would create "an economic boom like you've never seen."

■ On gun control: "The only thing that could have prevented that shooting (the Newtown tragedy) was if the principal had a gun in their desk," he said. He plans to block new gun-control efforts when he returns to Washington.

In case his drone policy has confused people about his political views, Paul stuck to his conservative themes of shrinking debt along with the size of government.

"The more government you get, the more freedom you give up," he said. "Your economic liberty is maximized by making government smaller."

Paul's recent time in the spotlight has raised more questions about his possible plans to run for president in 2016, but in a short news conference after the speech, he remained vague about those plans, and he said he wouldn't make any decision until 2014.

But he admitted to the heavy symbolism of his May engagement at the Iowa Republicans' Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids, an important stop in a presidential campaign.

"When you go to Iowa, people pay attention to what you're saying, so if you want to have an impact on how the Republican Party grows and what the country does, and where we go, going to Iowa is a very important place to go," he said.