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Paul Focuses on Shrinking
Government Size and Influence



Valley News Correspondent
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Claremont — Presidential contender Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., employed a visual aid during his town hall event Tuesday night at the Claremont Community Center: a chainsaw sitting atop several three-foot-high stacks of paper. The display was meant to represent the 70,000-page U.S. tax code, and Paul’s plan to cut it down to size in favor of a one-page policy.

During a roughly 45-minute speech, Paul outlined his vision for a scaled-down federal government, vowing to eliminate the Department of Education, issue a 14.5-percent flat tax, end the war on drugs and curtail surveillance of citizens by the federal government.

Paul criticized President Obama’s use of executive authority by citing James Madison and the French political philosopher Montesquieu on the importance of separation of powers.

“Some people have asked me, ‘What’s the worst thing Obama has done?’ ” Paul said. “I think it’s the collapse of the separation of powers. Our Founding Fathers divided up the power; we were supposed to have co-equal branches. Congress was supposed to be equal to the president, equal to the judiciary.”

The libertarian-leaning senator also offered critiques of his own party. He lamented the expansion of the Department of Education that occurred via the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act during the administration of George W. Bush, and he continued his recent attacks on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, painting him as a serial flip-flopper rather than a genuine conservative.

Paul ended his public remarks by suggesting the GOP could win a greater portion of the youth vote by taking stronger action to address racial inequities in the justice system.

“We’ve locked up a whole generation of black people,” he said. Paul referenced the case of Kalief Browder, who spent three years imprisoned on Rikers Island without having been convicted of a crime.

“I think people deserve a second chance,” Paul said.

During a question and answer session, Sydney Petersen, of Brentwood, N.H., asked Paul a question about climate change . Paul acknowledged that humans have contributed to recent warming but downplayed the extent of that contribution.

“The Earth goes through climatic change all the time,” he said.

“You can only expect so much from Republicans who tend to not believe climate change is that big of an issue, so we’re trying to push them,” Petersen said afterward, characterizing climate change as the “biggest issue we have to deal with in our country today.”

Petersen said she also questioned Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton about climate change at her rally Tuesday morning at River Valley Community College in Claremont. “That was a little easier; she had a nice response for me,” she said

John Marando, of North Haven, Conn., made the trip to Claremont with a couple friends to see Paul speak. He asked the senator how he would reduce the influence of lobbyists and special interests in Washington, to which Paul replied that he would restrict organizations from receiving repeated government contracts and ban congressmen from lobbying former colleagues after they leave office. Marando said he was very satisfied with Paul’s response and planned on voting for him in the primary.

Jean Fahey, of Claremont, kicked off the Q&A by quizzing Paul about how he would address the presence of undocumented workers in the U.S.

Paul said securing the country’s borders would be his first priority.

“You need to enforce the laws of the land,” he said.

Fahey, though, was unimpressed with Paul’s response.

“He didn’t seem to have an answer,” she said, noting that undocumented workers tend to be hard-working and trying to escape poverty. “We wouldn’t have dairy farms without them,” she said.

Fahey said she would probably cast her primary vote for Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination.

Paul parlayed other questions from the audience into discussions of foreign policy and social issues.

He described a spectrum of foreign policy stances from isolationism to total interventionism, and criticized some of his Republican colleagues for being too interventionist.

“There are people in our party who want boots on the ground in 10 different countries,” he said. “That’s insane.”

On social issues, Paul reiterated his opposition to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which has been the target recently of undercover videos produced by the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress.

Paul also spent part of his speech holding court on the Fourth Amendment, and the National Security Agency’s collection of communications records.

“Virtually every young person in America’s got a phone, and they don’t understand why the government would want to look at their phone records if they’re not suspected of a crime,” he said. “If we defend the Fourth Amendment like the Second Amendment, guess what, I think a lot of young people will come to our party.”

Paul’s favorability among likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire has slipped to 44 percent from 57 percent in March, according to a Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll released on Tuesday. The same poll puts Paul as the primary vote choice of six percent of voters, down from 13 percent in March. Tuesday’s poll had Trump on top of the Republican field in the Granite State.

In an interview after the town hall, however, Paul noted that he led Hillary Clinton by two points in a recent head-to-head poll in New Hampshire.

“I think our job is to convince Republican voters that we actually have the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton,” he said.