Paul: Washington a ‘disaster’

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) said at a weekend conference in Silicon Valley that he’s encouraged when he sees potential for growth away from “the disaster that is Washington.”

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Paul, considered a potential Republican presidential contender for the 2016 elections, attended a conference at the W Hotel in San Francisco attempting to link conservatives to the tech community. He also collected checks from donors at a swanky steakhouse fundraiser.

“I have nothing but optimism when I’m out here because I see amazing potential for growth away from the disaster that is Washington,” he said during a keynote address at the Lincoln Labs Reboot conference on Saturday. “I don’t have to think there has to be a governmental solution for everything,” Paul told the crowd, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times.

“Don’t be depressed with how bad government is,” he continued. “Use your ingenuity, use your big head to think of solutions the marketplace can figure out, that the idiots and trolls in Washington will never come up with.”

The trip could help him woo both millennials and the Bay Area’s prolific political donors in the tech industry. Although the region – through both votes and donations – leans very heavily Democratic, there is a movement to change that.

The “conservatarian” -- a mashup of libertarian and conservative -- conference was an effort to bridge the Silicon Valley political divides, introducing GOP operatives to the tech wunderkind in the region.

On Friday, donors paid as much as $10,000 to attend a dinner with Paul at a high-end steakhouse, according to the Times report.

Before that, he met with a handful of top tech leaders at Palantir Technologies in Palo Alto, Calif., where the group discussed privacy, immigration, education and tax issues, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The event was organized by a Bay Area-based tech advocacy group called TechNet.

This isn't Paul's first trek to California's golden coast. In March, he spoke at UC Berkeley and received a glowing reception.

Democrats, including President Obama, have proven savvy in using sophisticated technology to help fuel successful campaigns. In order to make big wins in the 2016 presidential elections, Republicans will have to catch up.

“I come out here and people say, ‘We loved President Obama, you know. We’re all for President Obama. We’re from the tech community,’ ” Paul said on Saturday. “Why? Why would you be? He’s not for innovation. He’s not for freedom. He’s for the protectionism crowd. You know he’s for the crowd that would limit the activities of these companies.”