Rand Paul Claims He’s Rightful Heir to ‘Liberty Vote’ in GOP Debate

As Peter wrote earlier today, with Donald Trump out of tonight’s Republican presidential debate, “the candidates have an opportunity, however brief, to show what they’re like in his absence, to demonstrate, if only for a few hours, the kinds of campaigns they wanted to run.” Apparently, the kind of campaign Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul wants to run (finally?) is as the rightful heir to the “liberty vote.” 

The liberty vote wouldn’t go for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Paul said early in Thursday night’s debate, blasting Cruz for skipping the Audit the Fed vote and rejecting Cruz’s claim that he could attract libertarian support.

Paul asserted that the liberty vote will “stay in the family.” 

Paul went on to criticize bulk National Security Agency (NSA) metadata collection, saying that “the bulk collection of your phone data and the invasion of your privacy did not stop one terrorist attack. If we want to collect the records of terrorists, let’s do it the old-fashioned way,” by using the fourth amendment. And he criticized the war on drugs, overcriminalization, and overpolicing. “I’ve been a believer in Congress about trying to bring about criminal justice reform,” he said. 

As Reason’s Matt Welch and Jacob Sullum have both pointed out recently, Cruz has completely flip-flopped on criminal justice reform.

Cruz, “once a leading Republican advocate of sentencing reform, has re-positioned himself as an opponent, warning that letting federal prisoners out early will lead to an increase in crime,” noted Sullum. “This reversal is especially startling because the bill that Cruz opposes as dangerously soft on crime is less ambitious than the one he proudly cosponsored last spring.” 

Sen. Paul touched on why “Cruz is a crummy liberty candidate,” as Brian Doherty put it, in a press all earlier this week. Paul also dinged Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for wanting NSA to collect “100 percent of our cell phone data—most in the liberty movement are not interested in government collecting any cell phone data much less 100 percent.” 

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