Sen. Rand Paul's Lonely Crusade Against NSA Spying


"There is heavy oversight of this program by the House Intelligence Committee on a bipartisan basis and the Senate Intelligence Committee," Boehner said. "And that's why I feel comfortable that we can operate this program and protect the privacy rights of our citizens."

He is joined by a slew of Democratic and Republican lawmakers defending the Obama administration's use of probing national security programs.

Paul, on the other hand, called Snowden's actions a "noble gesture" and a potential exercise of "civil disobedience." "I think he released information to say, look, the Bill of Rights is being ignored. And I think that in many ways is a noble gesture because he's having to give up a great deal to be on the run," Paul said on Fox News on Tuesday.

Further burnishing his anti-establishment credibility, the Kentucky senator has not joined another bi-partisan group of his colleagues in support of another, more moderate bill that would ask the administration to declassify their legal justification for probing into Americans' phone records.

But there are risks to going against the prevailing Republican Party position on the NSA's use of controversial techniques to combat terrorism.

If Paul does in fact have ambitions to run for president, he is potentially alienating a source of financial and political support.

But Paul's reputation of the standard bearer of a nexus of Libertarian and Tea Party causes has endeared him to the most passionate elements of the Republican Party's base—Tea Party activists who made 2010 a wave election for Republicans up and down the ballot.

And in the mold of his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, there could also be significant upsides to the strategy.

The outsider campaign his father executed for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 raised nearly $40 million and managed to surprise GOP insiders when he came in second place in Iowa's Ames Straw Poll.

"The establishment would like to say you're taking a risk if you stand up to them. If you look at people like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, [R-Texas], and Mike Lee, [R-Utah] they have so much support from people outside of the Washington, DC beltway. It actually makes people more passionate.

"There are people who would be willing to walk through the rain and the hail and door knock for people who are fighters," Carender said.

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