Senator Rand Paul spoke at the Iowa GOP “Night of the Rising Stars” event in Des Moines on Saturday.
There was no podium used by any of the speakers, and Senator Paul spoke without the benefit of notes. Nonetheless he spoke in some detail about a number of subjects, frequently using historical anecdotes to make his points.
He recalled a debate he had with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Harkin insisted that quality products were impossible to make without union labor. Paul listened, and then explained to Harkin that most of the groceries that he bought at his local grocery store were not made by union workers. He told the crowd he didn’t think he “got anywhere” with his argument.
He spent some time discussing Senator Henry Clay, the Kentucky Senator from the 19th century who was known as the “Great Compromiser”. Senator Paul said that compromise can be a “misplaced ideal”, and went on to tell the story of Henry Clay’s cousin Cassius Marcellus Clay, the uncompromising abolitionist, who fought for what he thought was right, and “didn’t take the easy way out”.
He spoke about the history of the Boston small pox epidemic of 1721 and the history of small pox inoculation to illustrate the courage required to move forward on things when to do so may run against popular opinion. He suggested this kind of leadership has been missing in Washington, singling out President Obama.
He also suggested that some of the issues we face today have the “moral equivalency” of slavery and the “urgency” of the small pox epidemic. He then asked rhetorically if we will be judged for not protecting the unborn.
Paul remarked that with regard to spending, we have trillions in deficits but were only considering billions in cuts. He suggested that the amount being discussed for cuts only amounted to 3 days worth of spending. He said he was concerned that we were headed for a “day of fiscal reckoning”, and that day had been moved up as a result of the disasters in Japan.
He spoke of Ronald Reagan’s life, legacy, and optimism. He said we need bold leadership like that. We need to “get government out of the way”.
Turning to recent events in Libya, Paul said we should vote on military action. He recalled that President George W. Bush at least did that. The UN is not more important than the United States Congress, he said. He also asserted that we’re (the United States) exceptional because of our constitution. He said that divided power is important. It provides checks and balances. Military action is something that we need to debate, and he hopes to “force such a debate”.