Five Minutes With Rand Paul

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

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.

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