Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul made another stop in an early voting state Monday evening, continuing to feed the speculation that he will possibly run for president in 2016. Just 10 days after stopping in the first caucus state of Iowa, he visited the first primary state of New Hampshire to address a GOP fundraiser and said the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS was “un-American.”
“Any person who would use the power or abuse the power of government to go after their political opponents, I don’t care if you are a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, to take that brute force, that bullying force of government and to use it against your opponents, there is something distinctly and profoundly un-American about that,” Paul said at a fundraiser for the state Republican Party in Concord, N.H.
The Republican senator joked that the trio of scandals hitting the Obama administration — the IRS’s admitted targeting of tea party groups, increased criticism and outrage at the administration’s response to last year’s attack in Benghazi, Libya, and news of the Department of Justice’s seizure of phone records of the Associated Press, as well as spying on a Fox News reporter as part of a leak investigation — all reminded him of the children’s song “Old MacDonald.”
“Old MacDonald’s Farm of Scandals: here’s a scandal, there’ s a scandal, everywhere a scandal,” Paul said. “So it’s hard to know which scandal we want to talk about, but I think they all sort of stem from one problem and that’s the government has accumulated too much power, the president has accumulated too much power. Not just this president, but maybe the last 10 presidents, because we allowed that power to go from Congress to the presidency. We’ve allowed the presidency to become too strong.”
Paul said the revelations from the IRS scandal will create “such a level of distrust” that there is “going to have to be some kind of independent commission” to investigate.
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“I don’t see any way the president can gain back trust, and for goodness sake, somebody’s got to get fired or go to prison,” Paul said to cheers.
He repeated some of the themes from his speech at the Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, earlier this month, repeating his criticism of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the attack on the consulate in Benghazi in September that killed four Americans, blaming her for not providing adequate security and repeating that if he was president at the time he would have “relieved” Clinton “from office,” adding, “It’s inexcusable.”
“Benghazi should have be treated, and still to this day should be treated, like Baghdad,” Paul said. “It should be under military control, not State Department control.”
Paul continued his call for the GOP to broaden its outreach, saying Mitt Romney is an “upstanding” person, “but as a party we need to grow bigger.”
“If you want to be the party of white people, we’re winning all the white vote,” Paul said. “But we are a diverse nation. We are going to win when we look like America, we need to be white, we need to be brown, we need to be black, we need to be with tattoos, without tattoos, with ponytails, without ponytails, with beards, without beards. We need to look like the rest of America.”
Paul didn’t hide his libertarian streak when talking about the prosecution of the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. Although other Republicans have said Dzhokar Tsarnaev should have been held longer without being read his Miranda Rights in order to get more information for the investigation, Paul recounted a conversation with a first responder in Boston in order to prove his point.
“He said, ‘What separates us from them is that when we did finally capture him … we sent the suspect to a hospital, he’s going to be tried in a court of law, he’s going to have an attorney,’” Paul said. “If this had been their country, he would have been dragged through the streets if he were an American … and beaten to death with a tire iron. We are different than they are.”
The speech wasn’t all serious, though. He earned some laughs at the beginning when he seemed to be talking about “border control.” He was, but not the border the crowd may have been thinking of.
“We’ve got to keep those people in Massachusetts out of New Hampshire,” Paul said to cheers.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus spoke before Paul, calling him a “great leader.”
Priebus also had some tough words for the recent scandals embroiling the Obama administration.
“It’s the IRS that is going to enforce Obamacare, the same people that targeted conservative groups and it wasn’t just conservative groups it was any person or any group that had something critical to say of the current administration,” Priebus said. “A president that touts ego, power, and a hatred for dissent above everything else, that’s Barack Obama, that’s the leader of this country. I don’t think this administration realizes that the First Amendment wasn’t a suggestion. The Bill of Rights is not a wish list, it’s a set of non-negotiable limits on the federal government.”