When Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was introduced at CPAC this afternoon, the main ballroom was so full of energetic attendees, some of whom wore “Stand with Rand!” t-shirts, one could hardly see the stage. The crowd was ebullient and on their feet as soon as he took the podium; even some members of the media gave him a standing ovation.
“Imagine with me for a moment a time when liberty is spread from coast to coast,” he began, after the applause died down. “Imagine a time when our great country is governed by the Constitution. Imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty. You may think I’m talking about electing Republicans -- I’m not. I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty.”
“We must elect men and women of principle, conviction, and action who will lead us back to greatness,” he added.
He then implicitly referenced Thomas Paine’s famous pamphlet, “The Crisis,” saying its publication, in his view, was an extraordinary act of courage by an extraordinary patriot.
“Will we be bold and proclaim our message with passion [like Paine], or will we be sunshine patriots retreating under adverse fire?” he asked.
William Lloyd Garrison, too, Paul proclaimed, was a fearless American leader conservatives must study and celebrate, an abolitionist who exemplified true moral courage.
“He rose above those politicians who would leave the country half free, and half slave,” he declared. “Will you, America’s next generation of liberty lovers, will you stand and be heard?”
This is when he addressed the National Security Agency's controversial data mining program.
“If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance,” he said emphatically. “[And] I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.”
The crowd erupted in applause.
“The Fourth Amendment is very clear,” he continued. “[And] the Fourth Amendment is equally as important as the Second Amendment, and conservatives cannot forget this.”
And of course, like most CPAC speakers, Paul didn’t mince words when discussing the president of the United States.
“How will history remember Barack Obama?” he asked. “History will record his timid defense of liberty. [If] the executive branch can detain citizens without trial; if it can amend legislation; if it can declare to Congress that Congress is in recess; then government unrestrained by law becomes nothing short of tyranny.”
He also addressed the president directly.
“Mr. President, we won’t let you run roughshod over our rights," he said. "We will challenge you in the courts; we will battle you at the ballot box. Mr. President, we will not let you shred our Constitution.”
“You can’t have prosperity without freedom,” he said in conclusion. “The time is now: stand with me [and] let us stand together for liberty.”