Steinhauser: Paul says winning NH 'absolutely' crucial; calls new attack ad 'lies'
MILFORD - Rand Paul says winning New Hampshire's "absolutely" crucial to his hopes of capturing the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
And the senator from Kentucky pushed back against new ads that attack him on Iran, saying they're "lies."
Paul's father, former longtime congressman from Texas Ron Paul, finished a strong second in the 2012 GOP primary. Asked in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News whether winning the first-in-the-nation primary was crucial, Paul said "absolutely. We have to win in New Hampshire, and we plan on doing our best."
Paul arrived in the Granite State Tuesday night, hours after formally announcing his presidential campaign at an event back home in Louisville. Wednesday Paul energized a couple of hundred supporters who packed the town hall in Milford.
In a well-coordinated and scripted event organized by Paul's national and New Hampshire based political operatives, the senator enjoyed a camera-friendly backdrop of supporters and a large banner that showed off his new campaign motto, "Defeat the Washington machine, unleash the American dream."
"I come to New Hampshire to announce that I will fight for your right to be left alone," Paul said, firing up the crowed with his libertarian-fused language, adding "we limit the President to two terms. It's about time we limit the terms of Congress."
And he threw out plenty of red meat to the conservative audience, saying that "not only do we not need Common Core, we need school choice. Let them have choice."
But in another sign that Paul, who's trying to broad the GOP's appeal younger voters and minorities, is not your typical Republican candidate, the senator quoted Martin Luther King.
"Martin Luther King spoke of two Americas. He described them as "two starkly different American experiences that exist side by side. In one America people experience "the opportunity of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In the other America, people experience a daily ugliness that dashes hope and leaves only the fatigue of despair."
"Those of us who have enjoyed the American Dream must break down the wall that separates us from the other America," Paul added.
As he did the day before at his formal campaign kickoff in Kentucky, when it came to national security, Paul spoke in a more muscular voice. Paul has come under fire in recent months from foreign policy hawks over his stance on nuclear negotiations with Iran and a host of other international hot spots, with many characterizing Paul as an isolationist who's in-line with his father, who ran three times for the White House urging an anti-interventionist platform that appealed to libertarians.
As Paul arrived in the Granite State, an outside group urging a hard line against Iran went up with a new ad slamming the younger Paul.
"He supports Obama's appeasement of Iran," says the narrator in a new spot by the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America.
The pro-Republican non-profit group says their spots are running on the Fox News Channel as well as in New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, the three states that kick off the primary and caucus calendar. The ads in New Hampshire are airing on broadcast stations, including WBIN-TV.
Asked by NH1 News about those in his party who question his commitment to national security, Paul said "I'm a believer that the number one priority is national defense. When I look at spending, when I prioritize spending, I think we need to defend the country, it's the most important thing we do. What separates me from some in the Republican Party is I would cut spending in other places because I'm not willing to add to the debt. I think the debt is a great risk to our national security and I'm fiscally conservative. With regard to Iran, I think any agreement has to be voted on by Congress."
As for the new commercials, Paul said "PolitiFact said they were false. They were lies and I would say they're lies."
At a news conference with reporters following the rally in Milford, Paul bristled at a question on his stance on abortion. After a report earlier Wednesday by the Associated Press said that Paul avoided answering a question on whether he'd allow for any exceptions to abortion, such as in the case of rape or incest.
Asked by NH1 News whether he would allow for any exemptions, Paul responded by attacking the Democratic National Committee, which was pushing the AP story to criticize the senator.
"You go back and you ask (DNC chair) Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she's okay with killing a seven-pound baby that is just not yet born yet. Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when she's willing to protect life," Paul responded. "When you get an answer from Debbie, come back to me."
Wasserman Schultz did respond, urging that Paul lay out whether he believes abortion should ever be legal.
"Here's an answer," she said in statement. "I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story. Now your turn, Senator Paul."
Paul was endorsed by two of New Hampshire's 14 state senators, Kevin Avard and Andy Sanborn. The two libertarian minded state senators warmed up the crowd in advance of Paul's speech, as did state Rep. Victoria Sullivan.
Sanborn, who co-chaired Ron Paul's 2012 campaign in New Hampshire, told NH1 News that "most of the campaigns have reached out and asked for my help, but I believe that Rand's the right guy that our state should be supporting and that the Republican Party should stand behind when it comes to who they want to be our next president."
As of late Wednesday night, a running tally on Paul's campaign website put the amount of on-line contributions received in the past day at more than $.1.1 million.