Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Haley isolated after Trump fallout MORE (R-Ky.) sought to merge his libertarian-leaning philosophy with social conservative beliefs on Friday, telling the religious crowd at the Values Voters summit that the two go hand-in-hand.

"Where there is liberty there is always plenty of space for God," Paul concluded at the end of a speech at times punchy and professorial that touched on abortion, foreign policy and religious liberty.


The likely 2016 presidential candidate sought to convince a socially conservative crowd wary of libertarians that he's one of them, calling for a "revival" of cultural values.

"What we need is something more than laws. We need something that civilizes a nation, and that is virtue," he said. "What America really needs is a revival."

The senator used that philosophy to defend his opposition to an intervention-first foreign policy mentality.

"Our foreign policy has too often accepted war instead of peace and intervention instead of strength, leading to unintended consequences," he said before arguing against arming Syrian rebels, a decision backed by more interventionist lawmakers in both parties.

"One group of these so-called moderate rebels has stated publicly that when they're done with [President Bashar] Assad, next they're coming for Israel," he said.

"You and I must stand with Christians in the Middle East ... but that does not necessarily mean war and that certainly doesn't mean arming both sides in every conflict," he said to laughs from the crowd.

He also used the crowd's fury at oppression of Christians abroad, saying that until Asia Bibi, a Christian sitting in prison in Pakistan, "is freed, Pakistan should not receive a penny of U.S. aid."

Paul also tackled abortion, a tricky issue for the senator following seemingly ambivalent comments earlier this year about Roe v. Wade.

"The debate isn't really about whether government has a role in protecting life. The debate really hinges on when life begins," the ophthalmologist told the crowd. "Don't tell me that 5- and 6-pound babies have no rights simply because they're not yet born."

Speaking shortly after fellow Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who stalked the stage like a televangelist to huge cheers from the crowd, Paul stayed steady at the podium, approaching the speech more like a professor.

But he did take some opportunities to throw red meat to the crowd, saying President Obama "acts like he's a king" and calling his announcements of executive orders "the exclamations of an autocrat."