Rand Paul discusses re-election bid, run for White House and fight over Scalia successor

02/23/2016 12:07 PM

With a flurry of stops, speeches, town halls and interviews U.S. Sen. Rand Paul delivered his message and talked about the issues facing Kentucky and the nation last week.

Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator is fresh off of suspending his presidential campaign, and focusing on being elected to a second term in the Senate.

What went wrong

After spending the better part of three-years laying the ground work and running for the White House, Paul suspended his campaign earlier this month following a fifth place finish in the Iowa GOP caucuses.

On the campaign trail, Paul said he felt he put forth a “valiant effort,” and that he did find support, including a younger demographic, but he said his bid was overpowered by the celebrity of former ‘The Apprentice’ host Donald Trump.

“I think the campaign in many ways got overwhelmed by the celebrity nature of one of the candidates,” Paul said referencing an article published in December which found Trump got 25 times more mentions than the rest of the GOP field combined.

“It became sort of a circus like atmosphere and made it difficult to get beyond that,” Paul continued.

After the campaign, Paul told supporters that the “fight for liberty continues” and that his voice would continue to defend a balanced budget, rights to privacy and defending a “more reasonable foreign policy.”

Paul said his campaign chose not to get involved in any endorsements, and he refused to say who he will support in the March 5, Republican caucus in Kentucky.

He did defended the Kentucky caucus , which was created to help him run for two posts during the same year, as a tool which can help the GOP in four special elections for the state House on March 8.

“It’s also the first time we’ve become relevant probably in my lifetime,” Paul said. “Typically we wait until May, and by then a lot of times the presidential election will be over.”

Whoever emerges as the GOP nominee, Paul said he would support in the General Election.

Running for re-election

National Democrats have couched Paul’s bid for re-election as a little more than a “consolation prize” after coming up short in his run for the White House, but Paul is defending his record in the upper chamber and positioning the contest as what’s best for Kentuckians.

“Ultimately it comes down to who do you think will better to represent Kentucky jobs and Kentucky’s economy,” he said. “President Obama is probably been more devastating to Kentucky as a state than in president in the history of the United States…Voters in Kentucky will have to decide, are you willing to support a candidate who will be a rubber stamp for President Obama.”

Obama leaves office on Jan. 20, 2017 and Paul says it’s his legacy which will be “devastating” to Kentucky Democrats.

“Do you think Hillary Clinton is any better for Kentucky coal then President Obama? She’ll be equally as bad or worse. Do you think Bernie Sanders is any better?” Paul said. “So really the hard part for Democrats is they have to disavow all of the national Democrats.”

Death of Scalia and the fight over a successor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been making a pitch that President Obama, with a year left in his term is a lame-duck, and that the American people should decide the successor to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who died earlier this month.

McConnell would have the next president name a nominee. For Paul he says the Senate should vet a nominee from President Obama, but he doesn’t see a scenario that he would vote for that nominee —especially when the next nominee could decide if Obama’s actions are legal.

Paul said he thinks Obama has “poisoned the well” by using executive authority and legislating via regulations, and that any Obama has a conflict of interest in naming a successor to Scalia — a leading conservative on the bench.

Under the Constitution, Paul said Obama does have the right to name a nominee, but the Constitution also grants the Senate the right to disapprove that nominee.

Watch the full interview with Paul’s thoughts on helping Gov. Bevin transition healthcare in the interview below; Pure Politics previously reported Paul’s comments on the fight between the FBI and Apple.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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