Senator Rand Paul joined me at the start of today’s show and discussed his 2016 campaign:
HH: Joined now by United States Senator Rand Paul, candidate for president. Congratulations, Senator, on your announcement, the success of your money bomb. Sorry about your Wildcats running into the Badgers, though.
RP: Oh, I know, that was tragic, but no, thanks, Hugh, thanks for having me on.
HH: Good to have you. You lured the Democratic National Committee chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, into confirming her and her party’s support for abortions in the 7th month. What are the odds of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Paul, being asked, much less made to answer, the late term abortion question by repetition from the mainstream media?
RP: Well you know, the one thing about it is, is that the country is divided on abortion. But even those who say they are pro-choice are not real excited and jumping up and down about abortion in the third trimester, a second and eight pound babies, and that’s the question I ask, is we spend a lot of time at the beginning of gestation. Why don’t we ask a few questions of Democrats towards the end of gestation when a baby, you know, when does life begin? I’m a physician. I examine one pound babies that have just been born to check their eyes, to try to prevent a form of blindness. And the thing is, is that you know, a week later, a week before, seven, eight pound babies, do the Democrats think that that’s okay?
HH: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said yes. Do you think Hillary Rodham Clinton says yes as well? Will she be forced to answer that question?
RP: I think the media will take a little bit different tack with her, and I think that there’s also a possibility that she’s not quite as available as some of us are to the media.
HH: All right, now let me turn to the Iran deal. Now yesterday, the Supreme Leader said the first day of the deal means the end of sanctions. After that announcement, Senator Paul, should we walk away from the negotiating table?
RP: I think my biggest concern about the whole thing is that immediately on the Obama administration coming forward with the talking points of what they say the agreement means, you have the Iranians tweeting in English at us saying that basically, the agreement doesn’t mean anything that we say it means. And so I do think there’s a great deal of concern about a lack of sincerity on the Iranians’ part. And yes, I’m very skeptical. The one thing I’ve said over and over is that we cannot constitutionally let the President undo law on his own. So the sanctions were passed. I voted for the sanctions against Iran. These sanctions were passed by Congress. I don’t think there is a legal way in which he can remove him without our approval.
HH: But the Supreme Leader said they have to come off on the day the deal is signed, or there’s no deal. Given that, and given your position on Congressional oversight, any point in us going back to Switzerland?
RP: Well, my point has always been that there should be a delay between the two, and that you should see proof of compliance and proof of goodwill on Iran’s part before any sanctions would be removed. But as far as going back, this is where I differ from some Republicans. I still am in favor of continued negotiations. I don’t think immediately stopping negotiations, I think they need to keep the sanctions in place, but I think keeping the door open and continuing conversations is better than war.
HH: Now the defense minister of Iran yesterday said it’s a red line, there will be no inspections of their military installations. If that remains their position, should we do any deal with them? Or should we then walk away from a deal?
RP: Well, and this is, you know, you hear the opposite from the Obama Administration. They say that this will be the strictest inspection regime that we’ve ever seen. And so that’s the whole problem. And I mean, that’s a problem with trying to have any ability to believe in the deal is it doesn’t appear as if the Iranians are sincere.
HH: So again, would you still go back and negotiate some more, even though their defense minister and their Supreme Leader have both laid down unacceptable conditions for us?
RP: Well, I’m a big proponent of, you know, the Reagan philosophy of peace through strength. And that also means that we’re strong enough to deter all attacks, but it does mean that we’re strong enough also to believe that we can continue discussions. We talked with the Russians throughout the 70 year Cold War, and I think that was much better than trying to bring things to a cataclysm. So I am in favor of negotiations. I am in favor of diplomacy. I’m not in favor of a bad deal, but I am in favor of continued diplomacy.
HH: Now you bring up President Reagan, and I don’t do ambush interviews, so I’m not, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Tanker War. Are you familiar with that, Senator Paul?
RP: In which year?
HH: When Reagan sank the Iranian vessels, ’87 and ’88.
HH: So do you think that was Reagenesque, and should we use that kind of limited military force against Iran if you’re endorsing Reagenesque policy? Does that include such actions as we took in the Tanker War?
RP: I don’t think the exact analogies exist, but I think the threat of force is always what encourages and pushes diplomacy forward.
HH: If Iran’s intervention in Yemen leads to the invasion of that country by Saudi Arabia and Egyptian forces, should we support the Saudi Arabian and Egyptian forces? And if so, by what means?
RP: You know, I think it’s complicated, the Saudi Arabians’ involvement in all of these different wars as well as the Iranians’ involvement in all these different wars. The Iranians appear to be on our side in the Iraq war, in the ISIS situation. Saudi Arabians actually, I think, have indiscriminately been on the wrong side in the Syrian Civil War in the sense that many of their arms have indiscriminately wound up with ISIS. So I think clear cut alliances in the Middle East are not always easy to come by. But what I would say is that when we do act, we need to act in America’s interest, and in our best interest, and that’s what’s most important.
HH: As you understand it right now, would that best interest include supporting Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their action in Yemen?
RP: Well, I think it depends on exactly where the state of things are at the time in which we’re talking. I think, you know, we’ve been supportive of the government in Yemen before they fell, but we were supporting them against al Qaeda. The interesting thing is the Iranian-backed rebels also were fighting against al Qaeda. So you end up having sort of three-way battles, and I think the most important thing is to try to determine what the American interest in that is at the time.
HH: Now turning to domestic policy, Senator Paul, if you win, if you’re the president of the United States, will you enforce the federal drug laws against Colorado and Washington State that have legalize dope for sale in those states?
RP: I think that states should have the ability to make these decisions.
HH: But the federal law exists, and it says that’s illegal. Are you going to abdicate that prosecution ability?
RP: What I’m advocating for is allowing the federal government not to intervene with regard to medical marijuana, and that’s the only decision I’ve made, is that I would allow states to have medical marijuana, and make the decisions on medical marijuana within the state lines.
HH: But of course, in Colorado and Washington State, it’s not medical marijuana. It’s all marijuana, anytime, by anyone, and that’s contrary to federal law. You would be taking an oath to uphold the federal law and the Constitution. Would that commit you to prosecuting in that state those people selling dope?
RP: Most of the time that I’ve spent in the last several years hasn’t been really with regard to federal oversight of Colorado-specific law. What I’ve spent time is trying to find a way where our criminal justice system is more appropriate, and that the punishment fits the crime. And so I’ve been opposed to people selling $300 dollars’ worth of marijuana and getting 55 years in prison. And so I really haven’t taken a position with regard to Colorado’s law. I will tell you, though, that my general inclination is to try to give states more freedom to make a lot of these decisions.
HH: Now Senator Paul, if you’re successful, obviously I expect every Republican to support you. If you are not successful, are you going to commit to supporting whomever the GOP nominee is?
RP: I always have.
HH: And does that mean prospectively as well in 2016?
HH: And if Article 5, if Russia, well, let’s hold this after the break, Senator. I know I’ve got 15 minutes with you, and I know you were late, so I’ll blow off John Podhoretz and I’ll come back with Senator Rand Paul right after the break, America.
(Rand Paul ended interview here)