Rand Paul Says He Has A Tea Party 'Mandate'

Rand Paul, the winner in Tuesday night's Senate primary race in Kentucky, tells Robert Siegel that he has a Tea Party mandate — a mandate that calls for good government, term limits, and a balanced budget amendment, among other things. He talks about his belief that more issues should be dealt with on a local level rather than on a federal level.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

One of the Republican winners last night, Rand Paul of Kentucky, can credit his success in part to a third-party movement, the Tea Party.

D: I have a message, a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We've come to take our government back.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SIEGEL: That was Rand Paul last night. And he joins us now. Welcome to the program.

D: Glad to be with you.

SIEGEL: You've run largely on an anti-Washington platform. You spoke of the Tea Party. How faithful a member of the Republican Party do you expect to be if you're elected to the Senate in November?

D: Well, it's kind of interesting. You know, I went to my first national convention in 1976, when my family supported Reagan over Ford, so we've always been Republicans, but we've always wanted the Republican Party to be the party of fiscally conservative, limited-government types. And I think, sometimes, we haven't done that as well. You know, when Republicans were in charge, we doubled the debt. But, now, our concern is the Democrats are in charge and they're tripling the debt. So, really, our concern is that we want smaller government. We want to avoid some kind of debt crisis, like what's happening in Greece currently.

SIEGEL: You've said that business should have the right to refuse service to anyone, and that the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, was an overreach by the federal government. Would you say the same by extension of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

D: What I've always said is that I'm opposed to institutional racism, and I would've, had I've been alive at the time, I think, had the courage to march with Martin Luther King to overturn institutional racism, and I see no place in our society for institutional racism.

SIEGEL: But are you saying that had you been around at the time, you would have hoped that you would have marched with Martin Luther King but voted with Barry Goldwater against the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

D: Well, actually, I think it's confusing on a lot of cases with what actually was in the civil rights case because, see, a lot of the things that actually were in the bill, I'm in favor of. I'm in favor of everything with regards to ending institutional racism. So I think there's a lot to be desired in the civil rights. And to tell you the truth, I haven't really read all through it because it was passed 40 years ago and hadn't been a real pressing issue in the campaign, on whether we're going to vote for the Civil Rights Act.

SIEGEL: But it's been one of the major developments in American history in the course of your life. I mean, do you think the '64 Civil Rights Act or the ADA for that matter were just overreaches and that business shouldn't be bothered by people with a basis in law to sue them for redress?

D: Right. I think a lot of things could be handled locally. For example, I think that we should try to do everything we can to allow for people with disabilities and handicaps. You know, we do it in our office with wheelchair ramps and things like that. I think if you have a two-story office and you hire someone who's handicapped, it might be reasonable to let him have an office on the first floor rather than the government saying you have to have a $100,000 elevator. And I think when you get to solutions like that, the more local the better, and the more common sense the decisions are, rather than having a federal government make those decisions.

SIEGEL: How do you feel about the degree of federal involvement in oversight of the mining and oil drilling industries?

D: I think that most manufacturing and mining should be under the purview of state authorities. It's kind of interesting that, you know, when the EPA was originally instituted, it wasn't even passed by Congress. It was passed as an executive order by Nixon. And I think there is some overreach in the sense that the EPA now says: You know what, if Congress doesn't pass greenhouse emissions regulations or testing, we'll simply do it on our own. I think that's an arrogance of a regulatory body run amok.

SIEGEL: Well, Rand Paul, just looking ahead to the campaign, now as you look forward to November, what, in a nutshell, do you assume your election campaign is going to be about as you run for the Senate from Kentucky?

D: Well, I think we have a Tea Party mandate, and that Tea Party mandate is for good-government type of things, things like term limits, things like a balanced budget amendment, things like read the bills for goodness sakes, things like that maybe Congress should only pass legislation that they apply to themselves as well. Also, that each piece of legislation they pass should point to where in the Constitution they get the authority for it.

I think you'll find that these are measures that have great bipartisan support, and so I expect, not only did we do well in the primary, I think we'll win by a wide margin in the fall because we're going to get a lot of independents and conservative Democrats coming to us.

SIEGEL: Well, Rand Paul, thank you very much for talking with us today.

D: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Rand Paul, who won yesterday's Republican primary in the state of Kentucky. He'll be the candidate to succeed retiring Republican Senator Jim Bunning.

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