On Tuesday, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul joined us to talk about Libertarianism in America today and the future of the Republican Party. Here is his conversation with guest host, John Harwood:
During the conversation, Senator Paul and guest host John Harwood discussed the Senator’s association with former social media adviser Jack Hunter:
John Harwood: You invoke the rights of black Americans. You spoke at Howard University. You’ve talked about commitment to outreach. What conclusion should people draw from the presence of that former shock jock Jack Hunter on your staff, who co-authored a book with you, who was identified as the “Southern Avenger…”
Sen. Rand Paul: He’s no longer on my staff.
John Harwood: But you had a pretty strong association with him.
Sen. Rand Paul: Yeah, but the thing is, if you’ll read through a lot of his things, I think some of the things he wrote, or many of the things he wrote were stupid and I don’t agree with. They weren’t things that I was aware of or reasons why I hired him. I do think though, that he was unfairly treated by the media, and that he was put up as target practice for people to say he was a racist, and none of that’s true.
Senator Paul expressed concern that he was being defined not by his actions, but by his associations:
Sen. Rand Paul: It’s also unfair to paint a broad brush and say that’s who I am when I should be judged by the things I’m doing. And I think there is no greater defender, truly, of minority rights — if you include minorities to be the color of your skin or the color of your ideology — than myself, because I will stand up there with the most progressive members of the caucus in the Senate and say, you know what, civil liberties are important, and they’re important particularly because of some of the egregious things that happened in America’s history.
John Harwood then asked for Senator Paul’s reaction to a piece from The Economist’s Democracy in America blog written by W. W. Houston (Will Wilkinson,) titled “Unpopular and Impolitic“:
John Harwood: If somebody sees the record of Jack Hunter…
Sen. Rand Paul: Why don’t we talk about Rand Paul, I’m the one doing the interview. You can go ahead and beat up on an ex-employee of mine, but why don’t we talk about Rand Paul and what I’m trying to do to grow the party, and then we might have an intelligent discussion.
John Harwood: Well I am, but he is someone who wrote a book with you.
Sen. Rand Paul: Well, you’re not. You think you want to dwell on something, you want to bring up critical articles from people who don’t like me, and don’t support any Libertarian ideals. Why don’t we talk about what Libertarian republican means and what it would do for the party.
You can listen to the full conversation on Libertarianism and the future of the GOP — which also included leading libertarian thinker and executive vice president at the Cato Institute David Boaz and The Atlantic staff writer Molly Ball — here.