Sen. Paul backs states rights on marijuana, saying he’s ‘interested’ in 2016 race

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 14:27 EDT
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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) addresses the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore.
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In a wide-ranging interview with ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl on Tuesday morning, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said he’s “interested” in running for President of the United States in 2016, explaining that he believes his brand of libertarian-infused Republicanism is just the thing the party needs to help conservatives appeal to young people.

Paul cited three key things that he believes conservatives should embrace: states rights on marijuana, immigration reform and defense cuts.

With regards to legalization, which Washington and Colorado approved on Election Day, Paul said he’s not in favor, but also does not believe the federal government should prohibit states from change their laws to regulate such behavior.

“States should be allowed to make a lot of these decisions,” he explained. “I want things to be decided more at a local basis, with more compassion. I think it would make us as Republicans different… I think for example we should tell young people, ‘I’m not in favor of you smoking pot, but if you get caught smoking pot, I don’t want to put you in jail for 20 years.’”

Paul’s father, the long-serving, repeat presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), gave his final speech to Congress last week. He’s long advocated for alternative strategies in the nation’s drug war and cited the position for much of his support among younger voters, but mainstream Republicans by and large do not agree.

The Kentucky Senator added that the GOP must figure out how to appeal to Latinos, saying that a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants isn’t something he’d rule out. “We have to let people know, Hispanics in particular, we’re not putting you on a bus and shipping you home,” Paul said.

He also insisted that Republicans should finally agree to a true compromise over the nation’s budget, with cuts to both defense and entitlements. “Republicans who think military spending, myself, who think national defense is important, should compromise and say, ‘You know what? Not every dollar spent on the military’s sacred. We can reduce the military spending,’” he said. “That’s a compromise.”

Although a moderation on immigration and the drug war could indeed help Republicans do better with Latinos and young people, those issues will do little to move the dial with women, who made up the largest bloc of votes this year and opted for President Barack Obama by double digits.

Senator Paul in particular may find that Democrats would challenge his libertarian cred by citing his record of extreme positions on reproductive rights, reminding voters of views he shares with his father, and instances similar to his attempt last June to insert a “fetal personhood” amendment that would ban all abortions in a piece of legislation that would renew federal subsidies for the flood insurance program.

This video is from ABC News, published Tuesday, November 20, 2012.


Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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