Paul courts youth vote at UNI


NICK FISHER, Executive Editor

In a stop that corresponded directly with the airtime of the Democratic Presidential debate, Sen. Rand Paul visited UNI Tuesday as part of his 11-campus tour aimed at driving 10,000 Iowa college students to caucus Feb. 1.

Roughly 100 attendees were encouraged to “take a ‘selfie’ with Rand,” and to download the Rand Paul 2016 app along with Paul’s introductory video, which featured only young people expressing a “stand with Rand” message.

Paul also tried to livestream his entire day, although the livestream site had a spotty performance due to technical difficulties on Tuesday.

According to a CNN news story Wednesday (Oct. 14), Paul said his “doing this dumbass live streaming” is proof that he’s still in the race, although his favor has diminished in recent polls. This comment was in response to one of the most Googled questions about him, which was whether or not he was still running.

“In 2008 and 2012, college wasn’t in session for the caucuses,” said Cliff Maloney Jr., youth director for the Paul campaign.

Paul himself did not make direct appeals to youth in regards to student tuition and student loan debt. Instead, he remained consistent on his plans for fiscal responsibility in the federal government, limited government in domestic and foreign policy and the protection of individual rights — all grounded, he said, in a strict adherence to the Constitution.

“That’s what the Constitution is about; it’s about binding the government in the chains of the Constitution,” Paul said.

Paul wrapped up his college tour yesterday (Oct. 14) at Morningside College in Sioux City, Buena Vista University in Storm Lake and Drake University in Des Moines. He was at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Loras College in Dubuque, Upper Iowa University in Fayette and Wartburg College in Waverly before closing Tuesday with his UNI stop. On Monday, he was at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Cornell College in Mount Vernon and the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

In his speech he did not discuss higher education or the legislation he once introduced that would have eliminated the Department of Education.

Much of yesterday’s speech was devoted to foreign policy matters, notably on his reluctance to use military intervention in other countries such as Iraq and Iran.

Paul argued that sometimes the U.S. “should remain neutral” on these matters, a comment that garnered applause.

He said the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi of Lybia caused instability, which shows how decisions to topple dictatorships were mistakes.

“So you ask yourself,” Paul said, “‘Which are we better off with, a strong man like Gaddafi in power … or say that we want democracy for those people so we have to get rid of tyrants so they can vote for what they want?’”

“I really like when he talked about how, in the Middle East, we are arming both sides,” said Adam Demory, sophomore marketing major at UNI. “And how, when we arm both sides like that, it leads to more fighting,”

Paul decried Republican presidential candidates who support a no-fly zone over Iraq and Syria, citing a potential conflict with Russia.

“Carly Fiorina stands up [in the recent Republican debate] and says she’ll be so strong that she won’t talk to Putin,” Paul said. He then called this “a dumb idea,” referencing the  Cold War with Russia.

Paul said the Democratic and the Republican parties are too eager to spend — he said Democrats call for more “domestic and welfare spending,” and Republicans call for more defense spending.

“The number one priority [of the federal government] is to defend our country,” Paul said. “But we have to get away from thinking it can just be a blank check. “

Paul referred to himself as “a different kind of Republican” on several occasions, and his campaign dubbed him an “anti-establishment” candidate.

But Jared Girres, freshman criminology major at UNI, wasn’t convinced.

“His dad was a senator,” said Girres, referring to former U.S. Sen. and former presidential candidate Ron Paul. ”He’s not new to this stuff … He grew up in it just like George and Jeb,” a reference to the Bush brothers – one a former president and the other seeking the 2016 nomination.

Girres said Paul was trying to distance himself from his father, Ron Paul, in the same way Jeb Bush tends to distance himself from his brother, George W. Bush.

On another matter, Paul, who has shown support for the legalization of medical marijuana in the past, was asked about the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado.

He said the federal government, per the 10th amendment, has no authority over what states choose to do about crime.

The senator was also asked about his stance on the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

“I really don’t think there should be any money for Planned Parenthood and I’m going to continue fighting against that,” Paul replied, referencing alleged videos of Planned Parenthood staff that detractors say show staffers discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue. He called the videos “horrific.”

Paul pointed to community health centers as the solution for women’s health care. These centers do not perform abortion procedures.

Paul also called for criminal justice reform citing the story of Kalief Browder, jailed in New York for three years without standing trial or being convicted for a minor theft. Browder committed suicide after his release.

“I want to be a Republican that defends the sixth amendment with the same fervor that we defend the second amendment,” Paul said.