Despite disappointing polling numbers this summer, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the libertarian-minded presidential candidate, said organizing continues in all 50 states, and he’s “all in” for a campaign long past the highly watched early voting states.
Paul’s comments came Thursday afternoon, Sept. 10, in a phone interview with the Iowa State Daily. He said frontrunner Donald Trump’s popularity is solely based on his “celebrity” status and completely dismissed polling showing him well behind the frontrunner.
“I think there is some celebrity distortion in the polls, but still when you ask people in most of these polls, ‘Have you decided who you’re voting for?’ two-thirds of people say no,” Paul said. “Then they ask you to go ahead and pick, even though you’re (undecided). It’s really kind of a poll of leaners, and it’s really influenced greatly by celebrity.”
Throughout the summer, Paul was considered a top-tier candidate and often showed up with double-digit support in various polls, but his support has fallen considerably following the entrance of Trump in the race. A CNN/ORC poll released Thursday showed Paul with support from 3 percent of likely Republican caucus goers, while Trump led the poll with 32 percent.
The poll, of 930 registered voters, 474 of them self-identified Republicans or Republican-leaning independents on Sept. 4-8 had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for Republicans and those leaving that direction.
Despite the Trump distraction, Paul said his campaign is focused on organizing efforts nationwide, including an upcoming campaign tour of college campuses.
“We now have 300 college campuses that are organized around the country, we’re organized in all 50 states and we have 15 schools organized in Iowa,” Paul said. “We plan on working hard to register voters and get young people out.”
Paul will participate in the Presidential Caucus Series at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union.
Paul also discussed several news items currently being debated in Congress, his policy proposals on education and his prediction for the Saturday Iowa State-Iowa football game in Ames.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
Just before the interview, Senate Democrats blocked a resolution brought forward by Republicans who disapprove of the agreement made with Iran that works to curb its nuclear capabilities. Paul voted to end debate, which would allow the Senate to pass the disapproval resolution with a simple majority.
“I ended up being a vote against the nuclear agreement because if they chose not to comply, or if they’re deceitful, there isn’t really sufficient leverage to entice them or encourage them to comply,” Paul said. “Once the sanctions are released, I just don’t think there is going to be a whole lot of leverage to try to get them to comply, and they don’t have a history of being honest in their dealings with international agreements.”
Paul said he was not “positive” what would happen next in the Senate related to the agreement. Right now, anything Republicans bring up to disapprove of the deal needs 60 votes to pass, but Democrats have enough supporters of the deal to block any efforts to derail the deal.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD FUNDING
Paul has also been vocal in his support to block federal funding for Planned Parenthood. While Republicans have long tried to take funding away from the organization, the newest effort comes after a series of videos showed employees discussing methods for harvesting fetal tissue and organs.
“I think people aren’t quite understanding this,” Paul said. “Congress’ job is to have the power of purse and it is to decide what to spend the money on and to attach rules and restrictions on how the money is spent. I don’t think Congress has really done this much in the past few years.”
Paul said he thinks how the Senate votes should be flipped around — requiring 60 votes to fund Planned Parenthood, instead of 60 votes to defund it.
“It’s not really about women’s health; we have community health centers that have been greatly expanded in recent years,” Paul said. “The only difference they have with Planned Parenthood is one, they don’t do abortions, and two, they have real doctors that can do everything Planned Parenthood does.”
Once again, Senate Democrats are likely to block any measure to pull federal money from the organization, and President Obama is likely to veto any effort that passes Congress.
“I think with taxpayer dollars we shouldn’t have them going to something that many find objectionable,” Paul said.
Paul echoed what many of his Republican colleagues have said regarding the rising price of college, which is that government involvement in education and the student loan industry contributes to rising costs.
“If you think through any (situation) where someone says they’ll give a free, say a free car, free college or a free house, it sounds good at first,” Paul said. “The problem is that someone has to pay for that. If I give you a free college education, (everyone else) will pay taxes to send you to college.”
Paul said he does not like the rising cost of college tuition, adding we need to get to the “root cause” of the problem.
“Why is almost every sector of our economy having declining costs with competition?” Paul said. “You could make the argument that government is involved in a great way, subsidizing demand by giving an extraordinary amount of government assistance to those going to school. They subsidize the demand, but when you keep the supply constant, the supply-demand curve says costs will rise. Government is part of the problem in costs.”
FOOTBALL GAME PREDICTION
Paul plans to tailgate the Saturday, Sept. 12, annual intrastate Cy-Hawk football game, set for a 3:45 p.m. kickoff in Ames. He is set to appear at noon in lot S-7, east of Jack Trice Stadium.
“I’m for Iowa and Iowa State,” Paul said. “I’m being a good politician. So when Iowa has the ball, I’m going to root for Iowa, but when Iowa State has the ball, I’m going to root for Iowa State.
“Is that a good political answer?” Paul joked.
Paul will also attend three Iowa events this weekend in Indianola, Marshalltown and Nevada.