“U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky looked more like an Apple executive than a potential GOP candidate for president.” The Post and Courier couldn’t have put it better. This past Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul visited the College of Charleston and spoke in Alumni Hall on campus at an event organized by both the Department of Political Science and Communications called Bully Pulpit. Rand Paul spoke on a range of issues from the Middle East, government privacy policies, student loans and the future of the Republican Party. The Senator wore blue jeans paired with a button-down shirt and tie with cowboy boots. He was seemingly casual for a potential U.S. Presidential candidate, yet this appears to be exactly what Paul was aiming for; attracting the younger, new voting generation to the GOP party.
Before becoming the U.S. Senator of Kentucky in 2010, Rand Paul was a practicing Ophthalmologist, however politics have always been a part of his life. In 1991 he founded the North Carolina Taxpayers Union and again in 1994 the Union Kentucky Taxpayers United, an anti-tax organization. During Paul’s time as a Senator he has advocated for term limits, preformed an audit of the Federal Reserve and worked on a balanced budget amendment. Paul has been known for his stance on abortion, describing him-self as one hundred percent pro-life. He also personally opposes same-sex marriage, but believes the issue should be left to the states to decide.
Rand Paul’s infamous father Ron Paul, an early presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012, perhaps most well-known for his libertarian political views and founding of the Tea Party Movement, has always had influence on the publics’ perception of his son, Rand. As The New Yorker put it, “many members of the Republican establishment see him [Rand] as a dorm-room ideologue whose politics are indistinguishable from his father’s.”
When speaking about current issues in the Middle East he said, “In 2001 many of you in the audience were like what, 5 years old? They voted on a war in 2001, how can that bind your generation? Can the vote in 01 bind your kids to war, you should have to vote.”
One of the most relevant subjects Paul touched upon was the issue of jobs for students after graduating from college. “How are we going to get jobs for all these millions of people graduating? The way we’ll have jobs is you have a decision to make. The decision is how you move forward out into life. How you want people to represent you. Your decision will be simply this: how do we create jobs? Do you want more money sent to Washington or more money left in South Carolina? It’s as simple as that.” Paul advised the audience to “have a smaller federal government. You’ve got to vote for a limited government, a constitutional government. Vote for lower taxes.” These were the ways he said the country could assure that more jobs and money are left in the states.
Perhaps the most surprising topic Paul brought up on Tuesday was the need for the Republican Party to rebrand itself. “The party has to represent the rest of America and so far we haven’t done a great job of that. I think we need to be with earrings without earrings, with ponytails without ponytails with tattoos without tattoos. We need to look like the rest of America, black, white, brown, rich and poor.” An idea he surely touched upon to aid his goal of getting the Republican Party a younger vote.
For as much rebranding and political support as Rand Paul hoped to gain from speaking at the College, the chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party, Brady Quirk-Garvan said, “We’d remind the GOP that Charleston County voted for Barack Obama twice and has consistently rejected tea party nuts like Rand Paul.”