Show: Rachel Maddow Show
Rachel Maddow: In the midst of the continuing and maybe even escalating turmoil inside the GOP it is still not at all clear who is going to emerge as a trusted leader, as a bridge builder, or even just as a receipt of grudging respect within the party.
One possibility which we have talked about before on this show is the quixotic Republican libertarian conservative from Texas, Ron Paul. His Presidential campaign last year engendered a surprise genuinely youth-driven grassroots movement not seen in the Republican Party since Goldwater.
And here’s where it can get really interesting: in 2010 Ron Paul’s son, who is also a surgeon, worked on his father’s campaign, he shares many of his father’s political views and he is making his debut appearance on this show right now.
Dr. Rand Paul, thank you so much for being here tonight, it’s nice to see you.
Rand Paul: Hi Rachel, good to be with you this evening.
Rachel Maddow: I want to start by asking you the same question that I asked your father the last time he was on this show. I want to ask if you agree with that assessment of the Republican Party that I just laid out: that there’s some sort of turmoil right now with the party’s identity.
Rand Paul: Well, I think so. I think the one thing is that the Republican Party has lost their mojo. They’ve got to find their mojo, and they sure aren’t going to find it attacking 97 year old grandmas. I think we’ve got to do a little better than that. As I have gone around the country and the state I think really the problem is believability. We’ve lost our believability. It’s not that our message is so bad, but we’ve said we are fiscal conservatives and then we doubled the deficit. President Obama recognizes this and he points at us and say, “Look, who are you to criticize my spending, you guys doubled the deficit on your watch”.
So I think it is going to take some new people, somebody outside the traditional politician to do something good for the Republican Party.
Rachel Maddow: I have talked about this a number of times on this show and I have hosted your father a number of times on this show, because I’ve felt like I saw some real mojo in the Republican Party around his presidential campaign. What do you think was behind the popularity of that campaign and the renewed interest in his ideas that we’re seeing right now among Republicans?
Rand Paul: Well, it was kind of interesting to see the kind of people who came to it. Some came from the left, some came from the right. A lot of young kids came on the war issue, but interestingly I was in a house party in New Hampshire and a young kid came up to me and he had long hair and he had a lip ring and he didn’t look like what you saw at your traditional Republican party meeting, and he said, “You know, I came to this […] to believe what your dad was doing because of the war issue”. He said, “You know what I am most concerned about”. This is a 19 year old kid. “I am most concerned about the devaluation of the dollar”. And I just laughed.
Because people come from all walks of life. My dad always says “Liberty or freedom brings people together”, and I think it does, and I think the young people like consistency, too. They like someone who says, “Well, you know, I’m for economic liberty”. Republicans kind of are. “But I’m also for personal liberty”. The Democrats are often for civil liberties or personal liberties but they kind of forget about the guy that owns the Pizza Hut and doesn’t want to be overregulated.
So, I think we need to get a little bit of both and I think the joining of the two together could be a very popular message. So I think it’s a matter of somebody’s got to present the message of the Republican Party better. Maybe it’s slightly different but we got to get away from going around justifying torture as our main message. I think we’ve got to come out with a better spokesman for our party.
Rachel Maddow: Well, speaking of which, Dr. Paul, I understand that you yourself have some political ambitions. I was hoping you might talk about those tonight on this show.
Rand Paul: Yeah, I do. I am happy tonight to announce on the Rachel Maddow Show that I am forming an exploratory committee to run for the US senate. We have launched our website tonight, RandPaul2010.com. I’ve got some really old political hacks in California aged 24 and 25 who have started up this website. You know how they say if you’re over 30 you’re way old in the computer business. So, we’ve got some mature 24 and 25 year olds putting this website together for us.
Rachel Maddow: You’ve said in the past that you were waiting to decide whether or not to run based on whether a not the incumbent senator in your state, Jim Bunning, was going to decide to retire. Has that situation changed, or are you willing to run against Senator Bunning if he stays in?
Rand Paul: No, I still think that Senator Bunning did a good job voting against the bank bailout and I’ve gone around the state saying good things about him. I think the problem is that every time a reporter ask Jim Bunning “are you running”, their follow up questions is, “Jim, are you really running?”.
He’s done some unusual things in the sense that he’s encouraged another candidate to get in the race and start raising money other than myself, as long they sort of promise they won’t run if he keeps running. But that does more to engender doubt about whether he stays in it, and what I hate to is a politician who might go all the way up to the deadline and pull their papers out an hour before and then you have one candidate and there is no real primary.
And I think the Republican Party is shrinking. As I travel around the country I said to people, “the real message or the real news story here is not who is winning the Republican primaries, but how small the primaries are becoming”. I went to a bunch of traditional Republican states and in every one of them the Democrat primary was bigger than the Republican primary. There is something bad going on and we need to change it or we won’t be a party any more.
Rachel Maddow: Dr. Rand Paul, thank you so much for joining us tonight and good luck to you. I hope to have you back on the show soon.
Rand Paul: Thank you, Rachel.