on March 7, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Five Minutes With Rand Paul

The 2016 presidential contender on gay marriage, Ted Cruz and why young people love their cellphones

"Festooned"
(Reuters/Gary Cameron)

There was a consensus among young people at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference that the GOP needs to get out of social issues. Do you agree?

I think it’s partly that. But I also think young people are very concerned with privacy. I think most young people’s lives revolve around their cellphones. They communicate with their parents by cellphone even when they’re in the house. And I think they are horrified by the idea of the government searching their records and being in possession of their records when they’ve not been suspected of a crime.

Right. But it seems what they’re saying is that the Republican Party should stay out of issues like gay marriage.

I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues. The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don’t want to be festooned by those issues.

As a libertarian, you believe in the sovereignty of the individual. But when it comes to the right for gays to marry, you said it should be left up to the states. Isn’t that a contradiction?

On issues that are very contentious, that involve social mores—I think that allowing different parts of the country to make their decision based on the local mores and culture is a good idea. But when it comes to taxes and benefits, the [federal] government out to take a neutral position—a way where marriage wouldn’t have an effect, positive or negative, on those things.

You said you endorsed Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s Republican senatorial primary because “there was nobody else in the race.” Would you have preferred to endorse someone else?

No, I’m happy with my endorsement, and I think Mitch McConnell is a good conservative.

Your recent op-ed for Breitbart about the future of the Republican Party got a lot of attention. Specifically, you said, “Splintering the party is not the route to victory.” Was that directed at Ted Cruz?

I have sort of a Jeffersonian belief in unity, peace and commerce with all. That means we don’t devour our own. We try to find an area where we can stand for principle. But it also includes people you don’t agree with on every issue.

Respond Now
  • lord deliver us our daily paul

  • It was social issues that cost them the Senate in the last election and the clean sweep by the Dems in Virginia. 

  • Rand Paul 2016!Peace, liberty, privacy, and a balanced budget.

  • Well, I am a former liberal who is now a fiscal conservative yet socially liberal. Where do I fit in? I vote Democrat as the lesser of two evils unfortunately. Until the Republican Party sticks to fiscal conservatism, strong defense and to bashing welfare state social policy and demonstrates to others that free markets are where it is at (as well as personal responsibility); not whether gays should have rights, it will continue to lose votes. And as a gay man, it’s a contradiction to believe in “liberty” and “freedom”; especially small government, if you deny that gays should be free from discrimination. I hope soon that the Christian Right gets its own party and leaves the Republican Party; as it’s been hijacked by religious nutjobs with a born-again agenda that they want to force on non-believers and those of different faiths. 

  • Interesting read. So if Republicans should ‘agree to disagree’ on social issues, should we also agree to disagree on financial issues, military issues, etc.? Why is it the social issues that must be tossed aside? For many, the social issues are the preeminent reason for voting Republican.

  • Wimp.

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