NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul showed why he’s earned a reputation as a favourite of the conservative base by drawing perhaps the loudest response of any speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday. Paul drew a sustained standing ovation from the packed standing-room-only crowd by sticking to his core libertarian message that the current administration does not protect civil liberties.
Paul provided a searing critique of President Barack Obama that focused on the National Security Agency’s surveillance and America’s drone program.
Paul walked out on stage to “Tubthumping,” the late-90s hit from the anarcho-punk band Chumbawamba. His voice was hoarse, but it didn’t stop him from bringing out the energy in the crowd.
He earned the biggest applause of the day when tearing into Obama over the NSA after announcing last month he was suing Obama on the issue.
“If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance,” Paul said, prompting groans from the crowd.
“I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business,” he then added, earning a lengthy ovation.
Paul quoted everyone from James Madison to William Lloyd Garrison to Pink Floyd in his speech.
He was quick to emphasise how he challenged Obama last year on drones, one day after the one-year anniversary of his epic filibuster on the Senate floor. And he said, as in last month’s lawsuit, he would continue to take on the administration on these issues for the next three years.
“We will challenge you in the courts and battle you at the ballot box. Mr. President, we will not let you shred our Constitution!” Paul declared.
Paul won CPAC’s 2016 presidential straw poll last year, and he is considered a favourite to win it again when the results are announced Saturday.
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