DOVER, N.H. — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took a direct shot at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here on Friday, giving a small preview of strategies he may use if they face off in the 2016 presidential race.
Paul has been traversing the country lately, giving speeches at venues both friendly and unfriendly in his attempt to broaden the base of the Republican Party. On Friday, at a New Hampshire Republican Party event, he said the GOP has an opportunity with young people because President Barack Obama’s positions on issues like National Security Agency spying no longer resonate with them. Then, he turned to Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton’s as bad or worse on all these issues. It’s a way we can transform and make the party bigger,” he said of targeting young voters, in a message that sounded as if he was presuming Clinton’s nomination.
Paul’s 13-minute speech was well received before a small crowd of about 175. He railed against the Affordable Care Act, NSA spying, and “big government.”
Overall, Paul’s message was similar to speeches he has given in the past month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland and the University of California, Berkley. He argued that, for Republicans to change the status quo, the party has to start winning elections — and that means expanding its base.
“To win elections, you have to have more people in your party. You have to have a bigger party,” Paul said. “So let’s not dilute the message. Some Republicans say, we need to be more like the Democrats. … I say, that’s hogwash. We don’t need to dilute our message. We need to be more bold with our message.”
The crowd at Cottage By The Bay, a small venue tucked away deep on a side street in Dover, was filled with a mix of avid libertarians and Paul supporters along with establishment Republicans curious to hear what he had to say.
Among those who were not already Paul supporters, the biggest concern about Paul was his rather isolationist position on foreign policy.
Tom Homer, a Republican who has lived in Manchester, N.H., for the last 45 years, said he identifies more with the foreign policy positions of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has lately drawn clear distinctions between himself and Paul. Sue, a Republican from Portsmouth, said she worried Paul was too much like his father, Ron, on foreign policy issues.
One veteran, though, said Paul’s foreign policy is the thing he likes most about him.
“Someone like him is not going to send troops needlessly overseas,” Jason Penrod, a 29-year-old who served in Afghanistan from 2012-13, told Business Insider after Paul’s speech. “Nothing we’re doing is working, and he knows that.”
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