CHANTILLY, Va. -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on Thursday that Republicans have been “winning” recent Washington battles and laid out a roadmap for how the party can use the victories to appeal to key voting blocks that fueled President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election.
The heavily speculated about potential 2016 presidential candidate said Obama's decision to seek Congressional approval for military strikes on Syria and public outrage over wide-ranging government surveillance programs have made for a great few months for the GOP. And those victories give tremendous insight into how Republicans can retake the White House in 2016, he said.
“I think we are winning in the sense that the public is with us, it’s just not us, the remnants or the hard core, but I think the public is, in general, with us on these issues,” said Paul. “I think also that from a partisan point of view as a Republican, theses are ways we grow the Republican Party."
Former government contractor Edward Snowden’s admissions that the National Security Agency has been collecting phone records and Internet searches gives conservatives the chance to appeal to young voters who rely on technology and value privacy, the tea party conservative said.
“If we want a transformational election where Republicans become the dominate party...we could become the party that doesn’t believe in big government surveillance,” he said.
“Who is probably the least likely to protect your privacy among Democrats? Hillary Clinton,” Paul added. (He did not specify why he thought the former secretary of state would be so vulnerable on this issue.)
This week, Paul also spoke out against mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, a policy he said disproportionately targets minorities.
On Thursday, Paul said making it an issue for Republicans to campaign on can help win over another demographic that Obama dominated in 2012 – African Americans.
“I think this is an issue that we should take to communities that haven’t been considering us,” he said. “Think about it, who in our
system, who in our society has been treated unfairly by justice? More than anybody else, African Americans.”
Paul’s audience here at the Liberty Political Action Conference included dozens who worked for and supported his father, Ron Paul, during his presidential runs. Earlier on Thursday, the former Texas congressman said on MSNBC that he believes his son is considering a White House bid in 2016, but has not had any conversations with him about it. The freshman senator has been traveling to key caucus and primary states and his future plans have been heavily speculated about.
“Does anybody remember Charlie Sheen when he was kind of going crazy…And he was going around, jumping around saying ‘Winning, winning, we’re winning,’" Paul said. "Well I kind of feel like that, we are winning. And I’m not on any drugs.”