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Rand Paul Follows Establishment Script in Convention Speech

Not much talk of limited foreign policy in this speech, or Internet freedom. But still insists Obamacare is unconstitutional.

JASON REED / Reuters

TAMPA, Fla. — Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s speech to the Republican National Convention, heavy on “you built that!” lines, was the latest indication of how far apart he is from his father in terms of their respective willingness to cooperate with the Republican establishment.

“When I heard the current President say, “You didn’t build that,” I was first insulted, then I was angered, then I was saddened that anyone in our country, much less the President of the United States, believes that roads create business success and not the other way
around,” Paul said. “Anyone who so fundamentally misunderstands American greatness is uniquely unqualified to lead this great nation.”

“We Built It” is a theme of the convention, playing off President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” quote that has become an enduring conservative meme.

In fact, the word “build” appears 10 times in Paul’s speech. For example: “When the President says, “You didn’t build that,” he is flat out wrong. Businessmen and women did build that. Businessmen and women did earn their success. Without the success of American business we wouldn’t have any roads, or bridges, or schools.”

But Paul retained some of the family kookiness, starting his speech off with an explanation of how he still believes Obamacare to be unconstitutional — despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional. And he did give a shout out to his father (“a
certain Congressman from Texas”).

Paul avoided too much mention of foreign policy, though he did say that “Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent, and Democrats must admit that domestic welfare and entitlements must be reformed” — a nod to his views on cutting defense spending. And his remarks didn’t fall into either of his two favorite rabbit holes: the TSA and Internet freedom.

But the speech went over well with Ron Paul supporters, a contingent that the Paul family hopes will stay with them after Ron’s retirement.

“We love Rand,” said Heather Mellem, a delegate from Massachusetts who supported Ron Paul. “Look at us, we’re here.” She and her friend, fellow delegate Carol Claros, yelled through Paul’s speech. Claros was in tears at one point.

“He gives me hope for the future,” Claros said.

“He is the new torchbearer,” Claros said. “He can bring in those people into the party who supported Ron Paul. He’s gray; he’s not black or white, he’s in that gray space.”

Many of the Paul supporters, especially in and around the Massachusetts section, cheered through the second half of the speech in particular. Instead of “Ron Paul!” they chanted “Rand Paul!” and someone yelled “Rand Paul 2020!”

Gilbert Vazquez, a delegate from Denton, Texas, approved of Paul’s speech. “I can definitely see his father’s influence in him.”

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Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics, foreign affairs and international issues.
Contact this reporter at rosie@buzzfeed.com
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