Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul dodged a question about his libertarian father Ron Paul during Monday’s Voters First Forum in New Hampshire.
Fourteen GOP candidates (minus Donald Trump) offered two rounds of answers live on the state’s WLKY 32 television station. Paul joined his fellow Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio from Washington, D.C., where the trio just voted on an unsuccessful bill to defund Planned Parenthood.
Paul, whose campaign is stuck right around fifth place (according to the CNN poll), addressed the issue that many voters want to know about him: just how libertarian is he?
When the forum’s moderator mentioned Paul’s father Ron – who the moderator called a “libertarian” and a “contrarian” who battled Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, he then asked the Kentucky senator to define his own political stance.
Paul, though technically answering the question, did not have a single word to say about his father.
“I’m a constitutional conservative,” Paul said. “I think the states ought to be left alone…I’m not eager for war…I’ll look at war as something that we have to do on occasion but it should never be the first resort. It should always be the last resort.”
Paul admitted that American citizens who fight for ISIS should lose their American citizenship.
“Yes and in fact you really don’t have any rights if you’re in the battlefield,” Paul said. “Non-combatants do have rights, but those who are involved in combat don’t get due process and will be shot when fighting against America.”
Paul criticized the NSA phone-surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden and said it is possible to “collect more information on terrorists, but less on innocent citizens.”
“I’m a different kind of Republican. I think we need a new GOP,” Paul said. “I have been going to places Republicans haven’t been to years” including Detroit, Chicago, and Ferguson, Mo. Paul referenced his Jack Kemp-style plan to enact economic freedom zones with low corporate taxation and regulation in urban areas, and said “We’ve locked up way too many poor kids.”
“I’m the only Republican leading Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania,” Paul noted, calling himself a “different kind of Republican.”
“If we try the same thing over again, we’re not going to win.”