Paul to take anti-NSA message to Berkeley

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is heading to a major traditional liberal stomping ground to protest government surveillance.

The Kentucky senator is planning to deliver a speech about National Security Agency (NSA) overreach at the University of California, Berkeley, next Wednesday, according to a notice on the school’s website.

“Senator Paul will discuss domestic security, the NSA’s collection of telephone metadata, and public debate regarding privacy and its constitutional implications,” the Berkeley Forum, a nonpartisan student group, said in a request for funding.

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“Senator Rand Paul will provide an in-depth, first-hand perspective as a politician involved in one of America’s most pressing issues. We believe the panel will benefit anyone who has an interest in the question of the NSA’s responsibility in American society and the consequences of this role.”

The Tea Party darling has been one of the most vocal critics of the NSA in Congress. Last month, he filed a class-action lawsuit against the spy agency along with Ken Cuccinelli, the former Republican nominee in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, claiming that its collection of information about millions of Americans’ phone calls violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

The speech’s setting is also conspicuously close to Silicon Valley, the hub of the tech industry. Tech and Web companies have been quick to criticize the NSA’s broad surveillance, which they say has undermined global trust in their brands.

Paul has sent signals that he is seriously considering a run for president in 2016, and has said that his libertarian leanings might be especially well-received among the tech set. 

The speech comes on the heels of Paul's decisive victory at the Conservative Political Action Conference's annual straw poll. Paul won the contest for the second straight year.

A spokeswoman, Eleanor May, said in an email to The Hill that the effort is part of the senator’s broader outreach.

“Sen. Paul is dedicated to growing the Republican party, and this trip is another example of his efforts to engage with those outside of the traditional Republican box,” she said.

Paul said on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend that the Republican Party has “got to grow bigger, or we’re not going to win again." 

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