Raucous cheers greeted Kentucky senator Rand Paul as he took the stage at CPAC this afternoon. The senator addressed a standing-room-only crowd; in the hallway outside, his supporters waved signs with the slogan “Stand with Rand!”
As the senator began, a fan in the crowd interrupted with a cry, “Don’t drone me, bro!” — recalling a memorable incident during which police used a taser to subdue a student in the midst of John Kerry’s appearance at an event at the University of Florida. Paul responded with a laugh. “That’s not quite what I was thinking,” he said. The crowd cheered.
Paul’s recent 13-hour filibuster, which delayed the confirmation of John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director, was intended to send a message to the president that his power has limits and that “good intentions are not enough,” he said. “No one person gets to decide the law, no one person gets to decide your guilt or innocence,” Paul explained, arguing that President Obama respects civil liberties in word but not in deed.
Paul pushed for widespread change in the Republican party, arguing that such change is necessary for the party to regain power. The GOP, he said, has grown “stale” and must “go forward to the classical ideas in the Constitution.” Chief among them is an emphasis on limited government: the idea that, because power corrupts, government must remain small. He cited Abraham Lincoln’s belief that “nearly all men can withstand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”