Rand Paul

Rand Paul: Mum on Khan, Trump > Clinton, and as for Gary Johnson—"I signed a document"

Former GOP candidate keeping a low profile in presidential commentary, but certainly understands why a limited-government voter may choose the Libertarian Party nominee


Rand Paul shakes Gary Johnson's hand at FreedomFest 2016. ||| The Gary Johnson campaign
The Gary Johnson campaign

Day Five of the Trump vs. Khan saga just received a heavy oxygen blast, as President Barack Obama declared this morning that the GOP nominee is "unfit to serve as president," and reckoned that Republicans should be asking themselves, "if you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?"

One Republican still endorsing Donald Trump—and not condemning the Khan comments, as far as I can ascertain—is the libertarianish former presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Paul, who skipped the Republican National Convention to perform pro bono surgeries curing the blind, has kept a low profile on Twitter aside from highlighting his re-election swing through the Bluegrass State, and had a spokesman respond to a Wall Street Journal query on Khan thusly: "Senator Rand Paul is focused solely on Kentucky and won't be weighing in on the presidential race at this time."

However, when asked last week about Trump by Louisville's WDRB, Paul said "it's clear" that the Republican nominee would be better than Hillary Clinton on manufacturing, taxes, and regulations, then characterized Trump's loose tongue like so: "Will people sometimes say things that are untoward or not what we wish them to say? Yes, that happens of every candidate….I always tell people the only perfect candidate is if you get to be the candidate or I get to be the candidate, then we agree with ourselves 100 percent of the time."

But Sen. Paul sounded some different and more Libertarian-friendly notes two weeks ago at FreedomFest, when asked by an audience member "What would you say to someone who says that voting for Gary Johnson is the same as voting for Hillary?" His answer, in full:

You know, (four second pause) they aren't the same. I mean, everybody has their decision to make on how they will vote. Some people are very practical minded, and they say "In all likelihood it's going to be Trump or Clinton. Which is the least bad?" And many will vote that way. And some will say, "No but I truly believe in limited government, the Constitution and a non-interventionist foreign policy, and I have a consistent philosophy. I want a candidate more of my liking." And they may well vote for, you know, a third party at that point.

So the debate has to be [with] each individual. All I can tell you is from my point of view, I've made my complaints about our nominee quite explicit. I continue to do so, but also don't see it as my job now—the thing is, is: I do think that my word is important. I signed a document, not under duress, but I signed a document saying I wouldn't run as a third party [candidate] and I will support the nominee. And I've supported nominees I haven't been perfectly happy with. I wasn't perfectly happy in 2012; I knew a guy that would have been a lot better in 2012.

After the jump, some other interesting tidbits about the presidential campaign and executive power from Rand Paul's FreedomFest speech.

Have you heard any of the candidates saying…that there is too much power that has gravitated to the presidency? I'm hearing the opposite. I'm hearing people say "Give me more power, and I'll fix it! We'll be great again if you can give me power! By the sheer might of my will we will make things better!"

But really there's a lesson of history that we don't want to forget. The lesson of history is that power corrupts, that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and we don't want to fool ourselves into thinking it just means we've got to give the power to our guy, or our girl.

In other Paul/Johnson news, Rand Paul's dad still hasn't decided which third-party candidate he'll vote for.