Rand Paul discusses policy and fellow candidates
Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul visited the Salt Hill Pub in Hanover Saturday afternoon on his campaign stop. The Kentucky senator spoke to a crowd of around 125 students and Upper Valley residents while the restaurant proceeded with their normal lunch service — servers delivered food to patrons and a football game played in the background.
Paul discussed his nomination, United States’ policy in the Middle East, his proposed limited intervention Middle East policy, the national debt and his fellow candidates.
Paul started by saying that he would not allow himself to be shut out from the nomination, acknowledging his exclusion from the Republican debate a few days before. He said that he was a candidate who stood for minority values of the Republican party.
“There needs to be someone on the stage, there needs to be someone in the Republican party, who is not a reactionary, who doesn’t believe that war is the first resort, but someone who believes that war is the last resort,” Paul said.
Paul argued that the U.S. should play a smaller role in Middle Eastern conflicts. He pointed to America’s role in the regime change in Libya and the subsequent emergence of ISIS as proof of the potential consequences of high U.S. involvement.
“It has to be fellow members of the Islamic faith saying that this [ISIS] is an aberration; it doesn’t represent us,” Paul said. “It can’t always be us that does everybody’s fighting.”
He criticized fellow presidential candidates for promoting intervention in the Middle East.
Paul also argued against a no-fly zone policy in the Middle East due to Russia already flying over the area, a point he brought up during his last debate appearance. To instate such a policy would mean shooting down Russian planes and creating more conflict, Paul said.
“For 70 years, both Republicans and Democrats have been lucky enough to have someone in the White House who doesn’t approve of war,” Paul said.
He said that his anti-conflict policy did not make him a “shrinking violet,” but rather he wanted to avoid war.
Paul criticized fellow candidate Donald Trump for not being able to answer a question on nuclear triads, the U.S. nuclear-weapon system based on aircraft, land missiles and submarines, in last month’s debate.
Paul noted that Trump’s campaign team, when asked again a week after the debate, said that the U.S. had not been willing enough to use the nuclear arsenals at their disposal.
U.S. debt was a primary reason to reduce intervention and conflict, he said. Paul noted that Democrats and Republicans were both to blame for its increase over the last few years.
He criticized members of the Republican party calling for unlimited military spending, as well as Democrats calling for domestic and welfare spending. The debt increase was “out of control,” Paul said.
Paul criticized presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, stating that they had doubled the debt. He noted that Obama is said to have increased the national debt more than all presidents before him combined.
He described himself as being the only fiscally conservative candidate.
Paul said that while some citizens might take issue with a limited budget on defense spending, limited defense spending would not to lead to a weaker defense.
“We are not stronger as a nation if we borrow more money,” Paul said.
He pointed to half a million dollars of military spending used to build natural gas station in Afghanistan, despite the fact that Afghanistan not only did not have cars that ran on natural gas, but also did not have many cars in general, as evidence of inappropriate spending.
The military spent more money in Afghanistan with less effect, Paul said, than the country spent under the Marshall Plan after World War II.
Nation building is an ineffective policy in the Middle East, as Afghanistan and Iraq are not actual countries due to the tribal nature of ethnicities in the region, Paul said.
Borders of countries were drawn without consideration to tribal loyalties and regional politics, he said. He criticized past Western intervention in the Middle East as ignorant.
Paul called for a return to conservative roots that promotes small government and limited power. He noted that Trump represented the party being lead away from these roots.
In a question and answer session, he addressed college debt and the effect of loans on current students.
Paul called Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ plan for free college naive. He noted that this cost would further increase the national debt. Instead, he proposed breaking up the educational monopoly in order to create competition among schools as well as using online courses to decrease college debt.
Leanna Arjune ’19, a Hillary Clinton supporter who attended Paul’s event, said she supports Paul’s views on non-intervention. She said that Paul’s only strong comments were on foreign policy.
Vibhor Khanna ’19, a supporter of Paul’s campaign, said that Paul was one of the only candidates who would be willing to downsize the government, no matter what branches he has to cut costs from.
Jennifer Galvin, Salt Hill Pub general manager, said that the restaurant often hosts political events due to the size and location of the restaurant.