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Rand Paul targets college-age voters in campaign swing through Minnesota

In an interview, Paul explained his appeal to students in a single phrase: “phone warrants.”

Sen. Rand Paul: “Frankly [today], Minnesota needs Republican like me. I think Minnesotans want to be left alone.”
REUTERS/Brian C. Frank

Republican presidential candidate Paul Rand is taking a swing through Minnesota Monday, delivering what his campaign calls a “unique” message to college students.

All three of Paul’s stops are geared to students. The first two are on campus at the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota-Duluth. The third is in Rochester.

In a phone interview during a campaign swing through South Carolina, Paul explained his appeal to students in a single phrase: “phone warrants.” 

“Students believe that the government shouldn’t collect your records,” he said. “They believe that the government went too far in collecting all of our phone records.” 

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The U.S. senator from Kentucky is largely credited with temporarily stopping the renewal of the Patriot Act, the set of laws enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that gave the U.S. government virtually unlimited access to American phone records. After its forced expiration, President Obama signed the renewal in early June.

Paul is milking that victory and his libertarian credentials in speeches and rallies at college campuses nationwide. In Minnesota, Rand’s father, Ron Paul, had a similar approach during his presidential campaign in 2012. It resonated so well that the delegates who went to the Republican National Convention that year cast their votes for Paul over Mitt Romney.

“Frankly [today], Minnesota needs Republican like me,” Rand Paul said.  “I think Minnesotans want to be left alone.”

In national polls, Paul continues to hover around 4 percent, allowing him to make the cut for the fourth Republican debate Tuesday. Paul’s appearance in Minnesota comes on the eve of the Fox Business Network debate, where he will be one of eight candidates on stage in a newly winnowed field. 

I asked him what he hoped to communicate in this smaller group. “I’m really the only fiscal conservative on the stage because I’m willing to hold the line on military and domestic spending,” he replied.

He elaborated that his tax plan demonstrated that commitment by leveraging a 14.5 percent flat tax to cover all domestic spending, including Social Security and Medicare.

Under the Paul tax proposals, those programs would get priority funding but enrollment would be raised from 65 to age 70 over the course of a generation. “If you want to save Medicare and you want to save Social Security you have to raise the age,” he said. “You don’t have a choice, because we are living longer and our families are getting smaller, so you have to raise the age.”