Rand Paul Is Taking His Anti-NSA Message to Berkeley

The early 2016 Republican front-runner thinks he can win over young voters worried about their privacy.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) takes the stage before addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord International Hotel and Conference Center March 7, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
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Shane Goldmacher
March 10, 2014, 8:22 a.m.

Sen. Rand Paul is tak­ing his anti-sur­veil­lance mes­sage on the road — and in­to the lib­er­al li­on’s den of Berke­ley.

Paul, the Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­an widely seen as lay­ing the ground­work for a 2016 pres­id­en­tial run, will speak at the fam­ously lib­er­al uni­versity next week at an event on pri­vacy, ac­cord­ing to a Paul aide.

The ap­pear­ance comes on the heels of Paul’s straw-poll vic­tory at the Con­ser­vat­ive Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Con­fer­ence over the week­end for the second straight year. There, he de­livered a rous­ing speech that sharply de­nounced the na­tion’s sur­veil­lance pro­grams. “What you do on your cell phone is none of their damn busi­ness,” Paul told the crowd to big ap­plause.

Paul has said re­peatedly that the Re­pub­lic­an Party’s path back to power is to re­gain those con­stitu­en­cies who have felt ali­en­ated in re­cent years. Young­er voters are at the top of his list and Paul thinks con­cerns about the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s track­ing tac­tics are the key to win­ning them over.

“The Fourth Amend­ment is equally as im­port­ant as the Second Amend­ment, and con­ser­vat­ives can­not for­get this,” Paul said in his CPAC speech.

On Fox News Sunday, he re­it­er­ated the NSA’s par­tic­u­lar im­port­ance in ap­peal­ing to young­er voters. “The pres­id­ent won the youth vote 3-1, but his num­bers have dropped 20 per­cent, 30 per­cent among the youth,” Paul said on Fox. ” “¦ And so, I think there’s a real op­por­tun­ity for Re­pub­lic­ans who do be­lieve in the Fourth Amend­ment to grow our party by at­tract­ing young people and bring that en­ergy in­to our party.”

The Berke­ley event will mark Paul’s latest for­ay in­to what is per­ceived as polit­ic­ally hos­tile ter­rit­ory. He has also spoken at his­tor­ic­ally black col­leges, in­clud­ing Howard Uni­versity in Wash­ing­ton last year, in an ef­fort to broaden his — and his party’s — ap­peal to Afric­an-Amer­ic­an voters.

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