Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) fired up a supportive crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday with a staunch defense of civil liberties.
Speaking on his hallmark issues, such as the National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance tactics and targeted killings of Americans overseas, Paul argued that President Barack Obama was “shredding the Constitution.”
“As our voices rise in protest, the NSA monitors your every phone call. If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance,” Paul said. “I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business!”
The standing room-only crowd seemed to hang on to every word. When Paul raised what he called the “profound constitutional question” of whether a single warrant could be applied to millions of Americans’ phone records, the audience screamed, “No!”
When Paul asked how history would remember Obama — under whom the NSA’s spying methods have turned into an international controversy — the crowd laughed.
“I don’t question President Obama’s motives, but history will record his timid defense of liberty,” Paul said.
Although the speech did not deviate in any way from the issues Paul typically spends his time on, the crowd’s response signaled the growing importance of civil liberties among conservatives — particularly the libertarian wing of the Republican Party.