Politics

Will Rand Paul Win Young Voters?

In a passionate speech, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) just announced his candidacy for President of the United States, saying "I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government." The one-term senator and former practicing ophthalmologist spoke around 12pm ET at the Galt House Hotel on the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky., his home state. The tone of his speech was an anti-establishment one: "Washington is horribly broken," he said, and "there's no monopoly on knowledge there." Much of his speech focused on berating career politicians for their inability to rein in federal spending. "We can't borrow our way to prosperity, " Paul stated, "let's quit spending money we don't have... and just spend what comes in." He also accused his Washington colleagues of never reading the bills they pass, while highlighting his record of standing up to the "Washington machine" and special interests - whether through filibustering the practice of drone strikes or fighting government surveillance.

Rand Paul is the son of former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, who ran for president in 2008 and 2012. It is widely assumed that Sen. Paul will champion many of his father's libertarian positions on the campaign trail. Ron Paul's libertarian appeal was particularly effective at galvanizing young voters in previous elections. Since much of Sen. Paul's strategy will rely on the support of younger primary voters, ATTN: has compiled some of the Senator's statements on 5 key issues important to the next generation.  

1. Education

Sen. Paul has made it abundantly clear that he wishes to abolish the Department of Education, believing that its "centralized approach" toward assessing students and their achievements is flawed. Instead he argues for "more local control over education, where states, localities, and parents can play a much more significant role in their children's schooling." On his Senate website he writes, "the federal government has simply used its power to disregard parental rights, restrict teachers, and leave kids with an unsatisfactory education, unable to compete in a quickly advancing world."

Here is a montage video of various TV appearances where he echoes his aversion toward the Department of Education:

In terms of student aid for college, Sen. Paul's stance is less unequivocal. He says he would preserve Pell grants, although it remains unclear at what specific funding level, and he also told a student at Howard University that he does not believe the government should borrow more than it takes to front federal student loans: "I am not for borrowing from China," he stated. "I'm for figuring out how we get [student loans] out of the 2.6 trillion that comes in every year, because I think if we borrow it from China, we're going to give you a student loan, you're going to have 60,000 dollars in debt, and then you got no job. Because we borrowed so much money from China that we're ruining the economy."  You can watch the video of him saying this here:

2. Marijuana

Sen. Paul is celebrated by liberals and libertarians alike for his progressive stance on drug reform as well as marijuana. He supports decriminalization measures and told HBO's Bill Maher that he would "do everything [he] can to end the War on Drugs." Paul, who recently backed a bipartisan measure to repeal the federal ban on medical marijuana, has also criticized his presumptive GOP rival Jeb Bush for his "hypocrisy" on the matter. "[Bush is] even opposed to medical marijuana," Paul told The Hill newspaper a few weeks ago. "This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana, but he wants to put people in jail who do. I think that’s the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side, which include a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that."

3. Immigration

Most outspokenly, Sen. Paul has introduced legislation to undo President Obama's executive actions on immigration, calling it a constitutional overreach. He is also a proponent of tighter border security and proposed mandating a vote from Congress every year, for five years, on whether or not the border is secure before allowing undocumented immigrants who are currently in America to be processed for Visas. Some conservatives feel Sen. Paul is too soft on immigration, as this Fox News clip below indicates. 

Sen. Paul has described himself as a centrist on the issue, as you can glean from this clip. "I do have sympathy for the Dream Act kids and I am actually a moderate on immigration," he told a radio host in 2014.

4. The Environment

Sen. Paul does not seem to deny outright the existence of climate change (like many of his Republican colleagues in the Senate), but he is reticent to trumpet its existence either. He told HBO's Bill Maher that "there is abundant evidence that carbon has increased," but he also seems to deplore regulations to fix climate change, as evident in this video clip:

As the National Journal reported in February, "Paul also has called the pillar of Obama's second term climate agenda—regulations to rein in carbon emissions from power plants—an 'assault to our economy.'" 

5. LGBT Rights

Sen. Paul's position on LGBT rights is at odds with most young voters in his party (61 percent of young Republicans favor same-sex marriage while 77 percent of young Democrats do), and he has come under fire for remarks to reporters in 2013, in which he stated: "I don’t think I’ve ever used the word gay rights, because I don’t really believe in rights based on your behavior."

 

The Senator's notion that sexual orientation is a behavior is considered deeply offensive to many LGBT leaders who do not view homosexuality as a choice, but rather a genetic trait. Paul also told Fox News' Bret Baier that "[he's] for traditional marriage” and that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. "Ultimately," he said, "we could have fixed this a long time ago if we just allowed contracts between adults. We didn’t have to call it marriage, which offends myself and a lot of people."

It seems ultimately that Sen. Paul would prefer to leave issues pertaining to the LGBT community up to states to decide.

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