by Mitch Perry
Rand Paul and Marsha Blackburn were just two of a host of GOP figures who appeared in New Hampshire this weekend at the inaugural "Freedom Summit," a cattle call for potential Republican 2016 presidential candidates organized by Americans for Prosperity and Citizens United.
Paul is considered a serious candidate for the nomination. Blackburn? Not so much.
On ABC's This Week, Paul again displayed the range on some issues that clearly distinguish himself from much of the GOP pact, conceivably making him an attractive general election candidate because of his appeal to independents and even some Democrats. On This Week, ABC's Jonathan Karl asked him about a 2009 speech where the Kentucky Senator suggested former Vice President Dick Cheney exploited the Iraq War to Halliburton’s benefit, prompting Cheney's daughter Liz to quip that Rand was getting his foreign policy advice from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
ABC US News | ABC Business News
Paul laughed off that suggestion, saying “It’s funny that my talking points would come from Rachel Maddow,” Paul said. “She is not my biggest champion…I would say my foreign policy is right there with what came out of Ronald Reagan.” In fact Paul and Maddow have been at each other for years, with the MSNBC host blasting Paul when he was accused of plagiarism last fall, leading Paul to say he wished that "dueling" was still legal in Kentucky.
But Paul is to left of not only Republicans but many Democrats when it comes to foreign policy. He was one of only two senators to vote against a resolution on Iran and nuclear weapons, and one of only two senators to vote against funding the Ukraine government in the wake of the province of Crimea being annexed by Russia.
"Even though I believe national defense is the most important thing we do, but it isn't a blank check," he said regarding his support of cutting the defense department."Some conservatives think, oh, give them whatever they want and that everything is for our soldiers and they play up this patriotism that — oh, we don't have to control defense spending. We can't be a trillion dollars in the hole every every."
Paul has been to Howard University and the University of California at Berkeley in recent years, talking to minority and young voters, two groups definitely not associated with the current day Republican Party. He called the party's lack of involvement with those sectors of the electorate as "a hardened resistance. It's been going on for decade after decade after decade. So it's not going to easy to change. We got 3 percent of the vote in Detroit. There's not one Democrat that's offered to help the people in Detroit. I went to the people of Detroit and I offered them a billion dollars of their own money to try to help them recover."
But Karl countered that Paul is offering tax cuts to the people of Detroit, which doesn't help anyone if you don't have a job.
"That money would be left in the hands of businesses that people in Detroit are already voting on. Let's grow those businesses and they will employ more people."
Meanwhile, I'm not exactly sure who is trumpeting Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn's potential candidacy, but she was in New Hampshire along with Paul, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and others on Saturday.
On CBS' Face The Nation, Blackburn bashed Obamacare and the Democratic Party's push in Congress for equal pay for women. She defended the GOP's vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate last week.
"The legislation was something that was going to be helpful for trial lawyers. And what we would like to see happen is equal opportunity and clearing up some of the problems that exist that are not fair to women. We're all for equal pay. I would love for women to be focused on maximum wage. And I have fought to be recognized with equality for a long time. A lot of us get tired of guys condescending to us. But, you know, I gotta tell you, one of the things that we need to do is look at access to capital, small business owners that are female. That is their number one problem is access to capital.