Paul Wins CPAC Poll, Says Privacy is the Issue for Republicans

By:  Jack Kenny
Paul Wins CPAC Poll, Says Privacy is the Issue for Republicans

The day after he won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll of potential GOP presidential candidates, with a 3-1 lead over his nearest rival, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said a clear focus on the issue of privacy in the midst of America's growing surveillance state is necessary if the Republican Party is going to grow and win elections again.

"It's a message that can grow the party, and the party's got to grow bigger or we're not going to win again," Paul said on Fox News Sunday. At last week's CPAC conference, which was held outside of Washington, D.C., in National Harbor, Maryland, from Thursday through Saturday, Paul in his Friday speech took aim at the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency, insisting that such a massive daily collection of billions of phone call records and electronic communications from millions of Americans cannot possibly meet the search requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with its mandate that warrants issue only on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and "particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or thing to be seized." Former Virginia attorney general and governor James Gilmore disagreed, arguing during a panel discussion that the counterterrorism officials need the information they are collecting so that when a suspected terrorist is discovered they can go back into the records to see with whom the suspect has been communicating.

But Paul's position appears to be resonating with the public, especially young voters. President Barack Obama won 60 percent support among voters younger than 30 in the 2012 elections, according to a national exit poll, and those numbers have to improve for Republicans if the party is going to have a future, Paul said. While positions on taxation and spending have been long debated and the liberal and conservative positions solidified, an appeal by Republicans to young voters on civil liberties issues has the potential to break new ground, since most young voters value their privacy, are generally suspicious of government and have not formed permanent affiliations with either major party. There is the potential for Republicans to seize the high ground on these issues, since Democrats have been mostly silent about them since Obama has been in office.

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Photo of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaking at CPAC: AP Images

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