Paul questioned on national issues


Senator Rand Paul speaks to a packed house at the Worsham Theater on March 27, 2013. Photo by Adam Chaffins

By Anyssa Roberts |

[email protected]

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul hit several national hot topics including gay marriage, gun control and immigration Wednesday in a talk on UK’s campus.

The junior Republican senator from Kentucky delivered a speech, titled “Restoring Economic Freedom,” that related free enterprise to college students.

A Q-and-A session followed the speech, where students and other audience members from a crowd nearing 400 brought up current topics. When asked about the recent Supreme Court deliberations on gay marriage, Paul said the decision should be left to the states.

“I personally am of the belief that the state should make the decision,” he said. “That being said, if you disagree with me, and people’s opinions are evolving on this issue, I’m not opposed to people making contracts.

“Marriage has got a historical tradition to it, though … it’s always been between a man and a woman, that’s what marriage was.

“Now can two people who are not man and woman love each other and have a relationship? That’s not my business at all. And if they want to make a contract, that’s not my business at all either.

“You should have the right to visit whoever you want in the hospital. You should have the right of inheritance. … I think there’s an in between solution without radically changing the definition because while I think there can be more neutrality I don’t think that I want to have the government also promote something that goes against a lot of historical grain of what marriage used to be and still is for a lot of people.”

Paul confronted the issue of gun control by discussing the Newtown shooting.

“The only thing that probably could have prevented that shooting would have been if the principal had had a gun in his desk or a teacher had had a gun in their desk,” Paul said.

Immigration was brought up by one audience member, which prompted Paul to say he was not necessarily opposed to illegal immigrants who have been in this country as long as they are working.

Paul said Congress should vote every year as to whether U.S. borders are secure.

One audience member wondered what qualified as a true immigrant.

“I think the reality here is they are missing a big point, and the big point is the rule of law of who is an immigrant,” Luis Pozzolo said. “An immigrant is anyone who comes to the country who is following the rules, and I’m not trying to be evil to people who are trying to jump the border, but the American society wants people who come here and follow the laws.”

P0zzolo came to the U.S. legally from Uruguay, and received his naturalization and has been living in the U.S. for 10 years. Pozzolo is a Republican but disagrees with the senator and his policies.

“I don’t think his plans will be effective because they have not done anything about the legalization system and that is the first step to stop illegal immigration,” Pozzolo said.

In response to Pozzolo, Paul said immigration is an issue to be addressed right away by the government.

Near the beginning of his talk Paul brought up a recent incident that thrust him into the national spotlight.

The congressman recently made national headlines for a 13-hour filibuster, during which he questioned whether the Obama administration had the authority to use drones to kill Americans on American soil.

Paul said the filibuster was about a limitation of power.

Paul appealed to students in the audience, saying many people who are graduating are not getting jobs with their degrees.

“That’s because the economy is not growing and economists are saying this is costing 1 million jobs every year,” Paul said.

Paul also touched on hemp, saying he was excited about Tuesday’s passing of a bill in the Kentucky Legislature to make hemp legal.

If Gov. Steve Beshear signs it, Paul said he will ask Beshear to cosign a letter to the president to grant Kentucky a federal exception to grow hemp.

Mandatory jail time was also a topic of discussion.

Paul said young people should not be punished with up to 20 years jail time because of a mistake they made, involving, for example, drugs.

Paul said this is something that Republicans should address if they are going to keep students from voting for Obama.

Not all students were allowed to enter the packed theater. Students lined up at the door were turned away as the room reached maximum occupancy of 400 seats.

Some students were able to enter in the last minutes before the talk to fill empty seats that were originally saved for faculty.

The event was sponsored by the BB&T Program of Gatton’s College of Business and Economics, a program established by the BB&T Corporation to promote research and teaching regarding understandings of free enterprise, according to the Gatton website.

Paul summed up his stance toward the end of his talk by saying, “For every ounce of government you get, you give up an ounce of freedom.

“If you want to maximize freedom, you minimize government. … There is a breaking point and we’re well past the breaking point of having too much government.