SWANZEY — Rand Paul was in town Wednesday to talk about his campaign for president, but first he needed to get someone else’s campaign out of the way.
“He’s the consummate insider,” the U.S. senator from Kentucky said. “He’s been buying and selling votes since the beginning.”
Paul was talking, of course, about Donald Trump, the 2016 Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul who exchanged jabs with Paul in last week’s debate and on Twitter this week.
Paul told an audience of about 40 people at The Dinner Table restaurant in Swanzey Wednesday morning that, instead of Trump, the country needs “someone we can believe in” as president.
Wearing a checkered shirt and sunglasses, Paul stood firm on his support for fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, civil liberties and entitlement reform.
“In order to find out how to pay for these things, we can’t just keep doing the same thing,” he said of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid.
Paul said he aims to make the GOP the “party of the entire Bill of Rights,” adding that he wishes voters would focus on the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, as much as the Second Amendment, which protects the right to form a militia and bear arms.
Asked about his simultaneous re-election campaign for his U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky, where Paul has been seeing pushback from GOP leaders in that state, he said the extra campaigning “hasn’t really been a distraction.”
“I’m a hard worker, I show up for work every day,” he said.
Paul dismissed a comment questioning his credentials with “hard-core” libertarians, saying he agrees with supporters of his father, 2012 libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul on 99.9 percent of issues.
“Nobody’s perfect or pure” libertarian, and his record on opposing government access to citizens’ information and opposing military intervention in the Middle East put him more in line with libertarians than the other GOP candidates, he said.
“Do they want Chris Christie?” he asked.
Speaking with The Sentinel after his appearance, Paul again addressed Trump, attributing his popularity in the race to voters’ anger with traditional politicians.
“I think people are unhappy with Washington,” he said, but “it’s one thing to say, well, I’m unhappy … and you’re stupid, and you’re fat, and things like that, and it’s kind of entertaining for awhile, but is that who you want to lead the country?”
The Trump and Paul campaigns have been exchanging harsh words on social media, conference calls and television appearances in the days since last week’s Fox News debate between 10 GOP hopefuls.
Trump called Paul a “spoiled brat” on Twitter Monday and Paul pushed back with a video Wednesday that uses footage of Trump saying he probably identifies “more as a Democrat” than as a Republican.
“I think he’s tapped into anger, but … his response is inanity,” Paul said Wednesday. “I don’t think that vulgarity equates with insight.”
Paul also stopped at Lindy’s Diner in Keene and the Peterborough Diner Wednesday as part of a three-day trip to New Hampshire with stops in Hooksett and at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.
Martha Shanahan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1434, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MShanahanKS.
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