Kentucky's junior Senator Rand Paul is bringing his presidential campaign to the Pacific Northwest this week. Monday night, he's fundraising at a private event in Bellevue. He heads to Alaska Tuesday, before returning to Washington on Wednesday for public events in Seattle and Spokane.
He sat down with KING 5 for a one-on-one interview Monday afternoon to talk about his campaign strategy and what he believes could be his appeal in Washington state.
"The last time I was here was in 1987, when my dad was running as the Libertarian candidate, and I was here for the Libertarian National Convention, which was in Seattle," Sen. Paul said.
His father, Ron Paul, drew large crowds in Washington the last time he ran for president in 2012. Although he failed to win the Republican nomination in the state, he came in second. Years later, Senator Rand Paul hopes to build upon his father's base of support and grow it.
"What we have to do to get bigger is to combine both the liberty movement and some of those who are from just the traditional conservative movement, and maybe convince some of those in the traditional conservative camp that, you know what, many of the other people may not be as conservative as they appear on the surface," Senator Paul told KING 5.
Senator Paul has called rival Donald Trump a "fake conservative." He believes attention should not be paid to his current overwhelming lead in the polls.
"The polls get more accurate as you get closer to an election. They're also more accurate when you tell me you've made your mind up. Right now, two thirds of people haven't made their mind up, so there's a lot of time for the numbers to switch around," said Paul.
As for his own lackluster number so far: "We'd rather they be higher, but for the most part, we'd like to look at the glass half poll. When you poll me against Hillary Clinton, I do much better than Donald Trump does."
On the topic of immigration:
"I think most important thing about securing the border is sometimes lost in the debate. The most important thing to secure the border is having adequate legal immigration. So, we have a lot of people who come to our country to work, we need to make it easy to come in. We need to make it easy to be able to document them as they come in, and easy to document them when they go back home. If you have a very onerous system, or if you make the work permits below what the market wants, then people come in illegally, so you need to have a very substantial work program."
On Black Lives Matter:
"I've introduced 10 pieces of legislation on criminal justice reform. In fact I ended up helping get passed a bill that allows for a report for any shooting deaths of police that they need to know race of individuals, so because of my leadership in Senate, we will get a report on what's going on. I've also introduced many criminal justice reforms to say that many of the minor drug crimes that we call felonies could be made misdemeanors or less, and that really putting people in jail for drug use is a waste of money and it ends up occupying space that violent criminals could take place."
However, addressing the Bernie Sanders' Seattle rally earlier this month, during which Black Lives Matter demonstrators took over the even, Senator Paul disagrees with the tactic.
"Do I think it's a good idea for people to jump up and commandeer the microphone? No, and I wouldn't let them take my microphone. You know things cost money, and they need to learn that things cost money, and really all lives matter. Someone said that the other day, and then they had to apologize, and it's like 'Really? You're apologizing because you said all lives matter.?' But I think there are some grievances, and I think the drug war has disproportionately affected black individuals, and I'd be willing to meet with them anytime; I'd be willing to sit and have a forum with them. I've been to 10 criminal justice forums that include many African Americans talking about all these same things, but we do it in a civil way. We don't get up there and grab someone's microphone and yell at them. And they're getting attention, but I don't know if they're making a good point."
On the Iran Nuclear Deal:
Senator Paul says he will vote "no" on the agreement, but gave a longer answer as to why:
"I've always felt negotiations are better than war, and that war or bombing Iran would be a very temporary solution, and probably wouldn't lead to them permanently stopping. In fact it might actually encourage them to continue developing it. If there is military bombing, then there would be no more inspectors, so we've really gotten to a point where there is nothing, no inspections," said Paul. "I do think, though with negotiations, you should negotiate from a position of strength. I think the strength we have is in sanctions….I think the sanctions go way too quickly, if I had been negotiating the deal, I would have said, we're going to be releasing money and sanctions, but we would have done it very gradually, over a period to make sure you're being compliant."
Rand Paul on what he says he wants Washington voters to know:
"I'm a different kind of Republican. I'm one who believes that you should be left alone. The government should stay out of your life, personal life, and business life. You name it. I'm also a Republican who believes we should return money to the inner cities, not take it to Washington and bring it back and give it to someone, but never take it from some of our inner cities that have big city problems," he said. "I think this is something we have not tried. We've had a war on poverty for 50 years, and we have more poverty; there's more income inequality now then there's ever been."
"I'm also a Republican who says the government shouldn't be looking at your phone records without a warrant, without your name on it. I'm a Republican who doesn't think war should be the first option, but should be the last resort and that many of the wars in the Middle East have not made us safer. I'm very reluctant to go to war. I'll do whatever it takes to defend our country, and to defend America, but you won't find half a million troops back in the Middle East if I'm president."