Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul evoked Adolf Hitler's rise to power in a discussion about America's growing national debt, arguing the government's spending habits could lead to similar conditions to 1920s Germany.
Paul made the reference in a profile of his candidacy in the October edition of GQ magazine. An online preview of the piece released last month stirred controversy for revealing a story about Paul's marijuana use and involvement in the prank kidnapping of a young woman during his college days. Paul strongly denied kidnapping anyone.
Jason Zengerle writes:
Just fifteen minutes earlier the candidate whom Paul came out to support was likening the current Speaker of the House to a former Soviet dictator, so I ask if he thinks that's what the press might be referring to when they say the Tea Party is extreme. He leans forward and smiles. "Well, I think whether or not your analogies are over the top, whether you might extend an analogy farther than others might, is not something to be reviled. It's just an opinion, you know?"
He pauses for a moment, as if wondering whether he should say more, then gives in to the urge. "But I don't hear that and say, 'Oh, he's absolutely wrong.' I hear him and say that our country is slipping towards that, and there could be a time when we slip and lose a lot of our freedoms. I'll say things like that Ben Franklin statement: 'Those who give up their liberty for security will have neither.' I worry about a time when we would have chaos in our country and then a strong national leader would come along and say, 'Give me your liberty and I'll give you security.' Not that it's imminent or happening tomorrow or applies to any particular players on the stage, but there are historical examples."
Paul pauses again, although this time it's not out of any hesitation on his part; he's just making sure we're still with him. "In 1923, when they destroyed the currency, they elected Hitler. And so they elected somebody who vilified one group of people, but he promised them, 'I will give you security if you give me your liberty,' and they voted him in. And that's not to mean that anybody around is Hitler, but it's to mean that you don't want chaos in your country. And we could have chaos, not just because of the Democrats, but because the Democrats and the Republicans have all been spending us into oblivion. And having a massive debt runs the risk of chaos at some point. Not tomorrow, maybe not next week—I mean, I can't even predict the stock market six months from now. But I think that a country is in danger that spends beyond its means and lives beyond its means. And I don't ever say it started with President Obama. I think it started long ago."
The Tea Party-backed Paul engineered a surprising defeat over Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the state's Senate primary in May, but soon after found himself in hot water for making controversial comments about the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Paul told MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow" that he opposes racial discrimination but questioned the federal government's authority to enforce anti-discrimination laws on private business. After coming under intense pressure from Democrats, Paul issued a statement saying he does not want to repeal the Civil Rights Act.
The campaign of Jack Conway, Paul's Democratic opponent this fall, pointed out that Paul has made similar comment in the past and called them "disturbing."
"Rand Paul's shrill references to Hitler and conspiracies of a New World Order continue a disturbing pattern of being completely out of touch with Kentuckians, Conway spokesman John Collins said.
The Kentucky Republican is the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and shares some of his ideological views.
Voters in the Bluegrass State appear to favor Paul's policy ideas, brushing his controversial statements aside. Most recent polls show Paul with single-digit leads over Democratic nominee Jack Conway.