Paul: Clinton ‘big proponent of the surveillance state’

Former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been “a big proponent of the surveillance state” and controversial programs at the National Security Agency (NSA), according to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

At the annual State of the Net policy conference on Tuesday, the prospective presidential candidate criticized the former senator from New York and said Silicon Valley could turn its back on her in the 2016 presidential election.

“I think in 2016, if you had a more libertarian-leaning Republican and you had someone like Hillary Clinton, I think you could actually completely transfer where people think they are and what party they think they believe in,” Paul said.

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Clinton has “never been a critic of the surveillance state,” he added, contrasting her with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has been among the most vocal critics of the NSA. “I would not put Hillary Clinton in that category.”

Executives at technology companies have traditionally been prominent supporters of President Obama and Democratic candidates. In 2012, executives from the computer and Internet industry donated more than $7.7 million to Obama’s reelection campaign, more than twice what they gave to Mitt Romney, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Though he did not specifically address his own potential candidacy for president, Paul said tech leaders have “sort of a libertarian sense” that “as long as I’m not hurting somebody else, leave me alone to do what I want to do.”

That preference, he said, could inspire Silicon Valley executives to support a “third way” between the traditional Republican and Democratic establishments.

Paul has emerged as one of the most popular potential candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. His and others' stock has risen in recent weeks as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been swallowed in a scandal surrounding his administration's politically motivated management of traffic across the George Washington Bridge.