Kentucky Senator Rand Paul managed to scrape into the latest GOP debate despite his campaign failing to capture mainstream support among large amounts of the Republican base. There many people who given the choice between Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton would have been unsure which way to vote, especially given Paul’s opposition to foreign military interventions and Hillary Clinton’s links to Wall Street. However this situation is dependent upon Rand Paul winning the support of enough people in the GOP, and a notable debate performance would be key to achieving this goal.
After arguing with Marco Rubio over his approach to immigration reform, Paul asserted that “Marco fundamentally misunderstands the immigration debate”. The Kentucky Senator stated that he wanted immigrants to come through ‘Global Entry’ which is a scheme currently being piloted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. He continued by outlining his view that in order to defend the country you need to secure the border with Mexico.
Senator Paul’s next chance to speak was briefly in reference to Syria before segwaying into whether Donald Trump was a serious candidate. He started by accurately pointing out that “arming rebels against Assad was a mistake” and that “over-throwing Gaddafi was a mistake”.
On the topic of Donald Trump’s plausibility as a candidate, Paul continued to make sense (which was unexpected for a GOP debate) by pointing out that censoring the internet would be a violation of the First Amendment, and targeting the families of ISIS- irrespective of whether they were civilians or not- would be a breach of the Geneva Convention. This plethora of clearly accurate criticisms of Trump was responded with a decent amount of clapping, but, depressingly, not as much applause as some of the unconstitutional programmes suggested by the other candidates.
The Senator went or to accurately say that “regime change was not a good idea, it has not worked. It allows terrorism to rise out of the chaos”. It was therefore unsurprising that he argued that Assad shouldn’t be removed from power because Assad is fighting ISIS.
In response to Chris Christie’s declaration that he would shoot down a Russian plane if it violate a no-fly zone over Syria, Paul pointed out, again correctly, that this would probably lead to World War Three. He also provided context to Russia’s involvement by pointing out that Russia was invited by Iraq and Syria and that the US would have no basis upon which to justify shooting down Russian planes. He concluded by bringing up Bridge-gate however this was met with boos from the audience.
On immigration Paul said that he believed that Rubio was more of a supporter of Chuck Schumer, the Senator who co-sponsored his immigration bill in 2013, and President Obama than conservative principles. On the actual substance of the issue he said that he wouldn’t send any refugees back and would work to get countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait to do much more.
Rand Paul had to use the debate as a platform to encourage people on the libertarian wing of the GOP to vote for him. Unfortunately this is a bad strategy as another such candidate, Ted Cruz, is doing significantly better than Paul in the polls and therefore any attempt by Paul to boost his numbers would probably split Cruz’s vote and give Trump the nomination. Rand Paul’s arguments are too based around being logically and ideologically consistent which, although commendable, will not win him the nomination.