Presidential races

Rand Paul rebuts: All is not well in America

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) swiped at President Obama’s claim in his State of the Union address Tuesday that the country has turned the page on crises and emerged strong.

“Good evening, I wish I had better news for you, but all is not well for America,” Paul opened in his YouTube rebuttal to the president. “America is adrift. Something is clearly wrong. America needs many things, but what America desperately needs is new leadership.”

In addition to YouTube, Paul lambasted the president on Twitter, fact-checked him on Facebook, and hit the cable news circuit to rebut Obama’s State of the Union address.

Paul’s YouTube rebuttal was packed with ideas he pushed Congress to take up: he called for term limits, proposed a balanced budget amendment, an audit of the Pentagon, and a constitutional amendment that requires Congress to adhere to the laws it passes.

The Kentucky Republican also hit on his frequent touchstones of repealing ObamaCare, cutting taxes and spending, and keeping the U.S. out of foreign conflicts.

But Paul also spent a great deal of time focusing on issues outside of Washington, in what may be the early framework for the small-government message he’ll take on the campaign trail.

“Before I ran for office I practiced medicine for nearly 20 years in Bowling Green, Kentucky,” Paul said. “Liberal elites fly over my small town, but they don’t understand us. They simply seek to impose their will on us from what insurance we can buy, to what light bulbs we use, to how we can generate electricity.”

“Most of us in flyover country, and I suspect many of us who live in big cities, think that those in government take us for granted,” Paul said. “Those of us who are actively pursuing the American dream simply want government to get out of the way.”

In addition, Paul focused heavily on inequality, and in particular, the plight of African-Americans.

“The war on poverty is 50 years old and still black unemployment is twice that of white unemployment,” he said. “Income inequality has worsened under this administration and still tonight President Obama offered more of the same policies. Policies that allow the poor to get poorer and the rich to get richer.”

Paul also turned his attention to the protests that erupted after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and spread after a grand jury decided not to indict a New York police officer in the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after an officer placed him in a chokehold.

“I was born into the America that experiences and believes in opportunity,” Paul said. “My trips to Ferguson, Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago have revealed what I call an undercurrent of unease.”

The Kentucky Republican quoted Democratic Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights leader, in comments about protests that have broken out in some cities.

“There is a tension that has become visible in the protests in every major American city,” Paul said. “As Congressman John Lewis put it: ‘There is a growing discontent in this country.’ I think peace will come when those of us who have enjoyed the American dream become aware of those who are missing out on the American dream. The future of our country will be secure when we break down the wall that separates us from ‘the other America.’ ”

Paul also leaned heavily on the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

“At home, much of nation still suffers,” Paul said. “Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of two Americas. He described them as ‘two starkly different American experiences that exist side by side.’ In one America people experienced ‘the opportunity of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in all its dimensions.’ In the other America people experienced a ‘daily ugliness’ that dashes hope and leaves only ‘the fatigue of despair.’ “

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