These are the remarks, as delivered, by U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Summit April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa.
Thank you. Thank you. It’s good to be here. It’s a little bit chilly out though. When does the summer start? I want to come back when it’s summer. People sometimes ask me why I got involved in politics, and I usually tell them that I got tired of throwing stuff at my TV, and that’s sort of true. But the honest answer is that I was disappointed. I was disappointed in Republicans who had doubled the debt while we were in charge, had doubled the size of the department of education, were supporting things like Common Core, were supporting things like bailing out the banks. And I said, “We need other Republicans.” We need to participate. And I can just complain and I can throw things at my TV, or I can try to get involved.
But I spent a long time training to be an eye surgeon. I love practicing medicine. I live in a small town in Kentucky. I loved being there. I loved being part of the medical community. And, I miss it frankly. And I get frustrated sometimes at Washington. So, to solve the frustration, I try to go back and do some practice of medicine. I do some charity work in Kentucky. And last year I was able to go to Guatemala with the University of Utah. We did about two hundred cataract cases, but there’s one guy that I’ll probably never forget. He was in his early fifties, which is young to have cataracts, but he was completely blind. He had lost everything. He’d lost his wife, his family. He’d lost forty pounds. He’d been taken in by a church, but basically he had lost his livelihood. He was a truck driver. He could do nothing. And, I’ll never forget the day after his surgery, unveiling the patch and seeing the smile on his face, seeing him get on his knees, thank God that he had been given his vision back. That kind of stuff you don’t see in politics every day. In fact, in politics, if they’re ever thanking God, they’re thanking God that Congress is out of session.
One of things that I’ve been lucky to do in medicine is I am able to examine the eyes of children. Babies that are born beneath, maybe a pound or two, under about two pounds, are at risk for a disease of the eyes called retinopathy of prematurity. And they can go blind if it’s not treated. So this was an important job that I did through the years. Many people didn’t want to do it because there’s liability involved. Many of these people don’t pay. But I felt like it was an important job because I’m about the age where you’ll still meet somebody who is blind from retinopathy of prematurity when it wasn’t treated. Now we treat it, and it’s almost all completely preventable if we catch it in time. But the thing that strikes me, is every time I examine a baby, some of these babies can fit in the palm of my hand, some of these are one pound babies. And, I think to myself… hmm… to you think Debbie Wasserman Schultz thinks that this baby has any rights? And, I say that somewhat flippantly, but I mean it as a very serious question. Actually, most of them do. Once a baby is born they think the baby has rights. This little, tiny one pound baby that we’re still providing complete life support for, that survives only because of all the things we can do to help this baby survive. They say that baby has rights. But a seven pound baby they say has no rights. And, I’ll tell you what I’m tired of, is I’m tired of us retreating on this issue, and I’m going to push back.
These aren’t all easy questions, but let’s ask them. Let’s ask the Debbie Wasserman Schultzes of the world, when does life begin? When does a baby have rights? And, and you know what she responded? I said does a seven pound baby have rights? You know what she said? She said that’s between their doctor and the mother. Really? A seven pound baby has no rights? She’s so out of step the Democrats are now worried. We’ve got them on their heels on an issue they try to put us on our heels on. They’re back pedaling. You know why? Because eighty four percent of America is not comfortable with third trimester abortion. So, I say, we push ‘em back and we say is abortion always OK? Are there no exceptions to abortion? Let’s flip the tables on ‘em and ask them when does life begin? Some of them say in the nursery. Really? So a seven, eight pound baby has no rights what so ever? I think we can win this argument, I plan on being a big part of it, and I’m gonna keep talking about it.
Around the world Christians are being persecuted. The sad thing is many of them are being persecuted with your money. We send money to countries that persecute Christians. Ever heard of Asia Bibi? Asia Bibi is a Christian that lives in Pakistan. She’s been on death row for five years. You know what her crime is? Her crime is she went to drink water from a Muslim well. As she began bringing the water up, they began shouting “death to the Christian.” They began stoning her. They began beating her with sticks. She’s crying out for help, and they’re chanting “death to the Christian.” And as they’re chanting “death to the Christian,” finally the police arrive, and she thinks she’s been saved, and they arrest her. All the other villagers said she blasphemed against the Muslim religion. She was carried off to jail, and she’s been on death penalty, on death row for five years. And, meanwhile, what do you do? What do we do? What does Congress do? They take your money. We spend billions of dollars. We give billions of dollars to Pakistan. It’s a crime, and it ought to stop.
So, I introduced an amendment. I’m on the Foreign Relations Committee, and I like to stir things up on occasion. So, I introduced an amendment. My amendment said that any country that persecutes Christians, any country that persecutes any religious minority, any country that puts people to death or life in prison for blasphemy, apostasy, changing religion, or inter-faith marriage, that we shouldn’t give them any money. But here’s the sad thing, and you’re going to be part of making the decision on who the nominee will be, who the conservatives will be putting forward as their nominee. Almost no Republicans supported it and no Democrats supported it. It lost 18 to 2 in committee because the unanimous consent, the nearly unanimous consent in Washington is: “Send good money after bad. We’re sending it to the so-called moderates in Pakistan.” And, I say, “it doesn’t look like it’s working.” But that’s what’s happening. If I ask you, and we polled the crowd, how many are for sending money to a country that persecutes Christians, it’s going to be zero. In Washington, it’s completely the opposite.
Washington is so out of step. Washington is so broken. It’s not gonna change. It’s not gonna change if you nominate Democrat-lite. It’s not gonna change if you put up somebody who is not dead set on changing Washington. Washington is so horribly broken that I’m a big believer that it doesn’t change until we finally send ‘em all packing, and we institute term limits.
They will never balance a budget. I have met these people. They are never, ever, going to balance the budget until you force them to. When you get a national candidate who runs on saying, “we will have a balanced budget amendment and we will force Congress to do their job,” is when they will finally do it, and not before. When you become part of the consensus, when the consensus becomes so loud and clear that you say, “we’re sending you home after a few terms, we’re gonna force you to balance the budget. And, while we’re at it, why don’t we have you read the bills first?”
I introduced last year a bill called "Stand with Israel Act." And in it, what I said was that the Palestinian authority should not get any money when they're allied with Hamas. Once again, I’m guessing we won’t get many objections to that. In Washington, though, I can’t get a vote on it, and most of the Republicans and most of the Democrats says, “Oh, we have to keep giving money to the Palestinians.” And I ask, why? Why would we give money to a group that has allied with Hamas, while Hamas is launching missiles into Israel when your money could actually be in a way possibly used to buy missiles that are being launched against Israel? Anybody…let’s see a raise of hands, how many people think we need to keep sending money to Palestinian authority? Washington though doesn’t get it. They continue, it is the vast majority position. I have tried to target countries that chant “Death to America,” and chant and burn our flag. I’ve tried to say let’s don’t give money to countries that burn our flag. I get about twenty votes. It’s sad, but with your help we can do it. But someone has gotta say something. You gotta speak out and say, “countries that persecute Christians shouldn’t get one penny of our dollars.”
To win, though, we’ve got to take our message to people who aren’t here today. We’ve got to take our message to people who don’t look like us, who may not work in the same profession, who have not been Republicans. I’ve got a news flash, we lost Iowa the last two times. We’ve got to do something different. If you do the same thing again, if you run Democrat-lite, nothing changes, but you also aren’t going to win. You’ve got to run somebody who is different. You’ve got to run somebody who says, “you know what, not only are we the party of the Second Amendment, but we are going to be the party of the Fourth Amendment. We are going to be the party that respects your right to privacy. We’re going to be the party that says that government cannot, without a warrant, without a judge’s signature, that the government cannot look at your phone records. We need to be the party of the entire Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights isn’t so much for the prom queen. The Bill of Rights isn’t so much for the High School quarterback, the Bill of Rights is for the least popular among us. You can be a minority because of the shade of your skin, but you can also be a minority because of the shade of your ideology. You can be a minority because you teach your kids at home, or you can be a minority because you’re one of the few people who still believes in right and wrong. We need to protect the rights of the minority.
And when they send the police to your churches, when they send the police into your church and ask your minister for their sermons, that’s when it’s time for civil disobedience.
I want to close with one story, and it’s a really sad story. But it’s a story that shows how if we were the party of the entire Bill of Rights, we could be a party that brings in new people. Kalief Browder was a sixteen year-old black kid in New York City. He was accused of a crime. I don’t know if he was guilty or not, but he was put in Riker’s Prison. He’s sixteen. He was put in solitary confinement. I don’t know what happened to him, but I know he tried to commit suicide four times. I also know that he spent three years in jail without a trial. His bond was three thousand dollars. You probably would have found three thousand dollars for your kid so they didn’t have to rot in prison. His parents were poor. The Sixth Amendment, so we talk about the Second Amendment, and I’m all for it, I’m a big Second Amendment guy. But the Sixth Amendment says you have the right to a trial, says you have the right to a speedy trial.
When we become the party of the entire Bill of Rights, when we proclaim with passion like Patrick Henry that the Constitution was not to restrain the people, but to restrain the government, when we show compassion for the least among us, we are going to be a party that rocks, and rolls, and dominates in Iowa and across America again, and I want to be part of that. Thank you very much.