Dr. Rand Paul

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Dr. Rand Paul is a former ophthalmologist and the son of libertarian icon Ron Paul. Rand left medicine and ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 on a libertarian platform, winning a seat for Kentucky. In the Senate, he serves in the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. He announced his campaign for the Republican nomination in April 2015 at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. 


On the Issues

AAI tracks statements, non-statements, and the track records of each presidential candidate on the issues we care about most. Click on an issue to read what Rand Paul has said on the campaign trail.


Foreign Policy     

Domestic Policy


U.S. Role in the Middle East 

Voting Rights 


U.S. Response to ISIL

Civil Rights + Civil Liberties








Community Policing




Bigoted Speech


Iran Negotiations 

Immigration Reform

Key Advisors

  • Doug Stafford: Chief Strategist. He consulted Paul during his 2010 Senate race, and serves as the Executive Director of RANDPAC. 
  • Vincent Harris: Chief Digital Strategist. He is the CEO of Harris Media LLC, whose clients included Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and former Rep. Newt Gingrich. Harris managed online strategy for Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign and for Senator Mitch McConnell’s 2014 campaign. He worked for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the 2012 GOP primary. Harris recently advised the media team for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party for the 2015 Israeli elections.

SuperPAC Support: America's Liberty PAC, Rand PAC 2016.


The U.S. Role in the Middle East

"We have to have a more realistic foreign policy and not a utopian one where we say, oh, we’re going to spread freedom and democracy, and everybody in the Middle East is going to love us. They are not going to love us." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

"I think that by arming the allies of ISIS, the Islamic rebels against Assad, that we created a safe space or made that space bigger for ISIS to grow. I think those who have wanted regime change have made a mistake. When we toppled Gadhafi in Libya, I think that was a mistake. I think ISIS grew stronger, we had a failed state, and we were more at risk." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

"Why are we always the world's patsies that we have to go over there and fight their wars for them? They need to fight their wars, we need to defend American interests, but it is not in America's national security interests to have another war in Iraq.” (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

“I think this gets to the point of wisdom on when to intervene and when we shouldn’t. Had we bombed Assad at the time, like President Obama wanted, and like Hillary Clinton wanted and many Republicans wanted, I think ISIS would be in Damascus today. I think ISIS would be in charge of Syria had we bombed Assad. Sometimes both sides of the civil war are evil, and sometimes intervention sometimes makes us less safe. This is the real debate we have to have in the Middle East.” (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

"I’ve made my career as an opponent of the Iraq War. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us." (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

“Iran is now stronger because Hussein is gone. Hussein was the great bulwark and counterbalance to the Iranians. So when we complain about the Iranians, you need to remember that the Iraq War made it worse.” (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

I think we ought to quit sending it to countries that burn our flag. Israel is not one of those. But even Benjamin Netanyahu said that ultimately, they will be stronger when they're independent. My position is exactly the same. Do you borrow money from China to send it to anyone? Out of your surplus, you can help your allies, and Israel is a great ally. And this is no particular animus of Israel, but what I will say, and I will say over and over again, we cannot give away money we don't have. We do not project power from bankruptcy court.” (August 2015, Fox GOP Debate)

“I don’t want to be in the middle of the long war, because I don’t think there really is an answer in this long war. Much of this war should be left to be fought by the Middle East.” (January 2015, US News)

“There are already those in both parties who insist that we must have American GIs on the ground. I’m not sending any American soldiers. The people who live there need to stand up and fight.” (September 2014, Politico)

U.S. Response to ISIL

"I think if we ban certain religions, if we censor the Internet, I think that at that point the terrorists will have won. Regime change hasn’t won. Toppling secular dictators in the Middle East has only led to chaos and the rise of radical Islam. I think if we want to defeat terrorism, I think if we truly are sincere about defeating terrorism, we need to quit arming the allies of ISIS. If we want to defeat terrorism, the boots on the ground — the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

In a bill proposed to Congress after the Paris terrorist attacks, Paul supported a halt of all visas, including student and tourist visas, from nearly 30 counties that have "significant jihadist movements." Paul said, "The best way to defend the country from attackers that don't really have an army, but come here as individuals, is to prevent their access into this country. It is about time, and I think Paris should wake us up to the fact that we can't just let anyone come to this country... In order to be safe, in order to be secure, we cant just say, 'Hey we've got an open door and we’re going to take people form the Middle East." (November 2015, Congressional statement)

“If you want boots on the ground, and you want them to be our sons and daughters, you got 14 other choices. There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you, if you want to go back to war in Iraq. But the thing is, the first war was a mistake. And I’m not sending our sons and our daughters back to Iraq. The war didn’t work. We can amplify those who live there." (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

"The Kurds deserve to be armed and I'll arm them. We can use our Air Force to amplify the forces there. But the boots on the ground need to be the people who live there." (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

“I've got a proposal. I'm the leading voice in America for not arming the allies of ISIS. I've been fighting amidst a lot of opposition from both Hillary Clinton, as well as some Republicans who wanted to send arms to the allies of ISIS.ISIS rides around in a billion dollars worth of U.S. Humvees. It's a disgrace. We've got to stop -- we shouldn't fund our enemies, for goodness sakes. So, we didn't create ISIS -- ISIS created themselves, but we will stop them, and one of the ways we stop them is by not funding them, and not arming them.” (August 2015, Fox GOP Debate)

“If you want to defeat ISIS, the first thing you have to do is quit supplying them with arms.” (August 2015, RandPaul.com)

“The President has been sending weapons to Baghdad. They’re not adequately getting to Kurdistan. I would fund them directly. I would some of the weaponry that we have left over in Afghanistan and I would send that directly to the Kurds.” (February 2015, Yahoo! News)

“Our airpower must be used to rebalance the tactical situation in favor of the Kurds and Iraqis and to defend Americans and our assets in the region.Just as we should have defended our consulate in Benghazi, so too we must defend our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.”(October 2014, National Interest)

“We should not put any U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, unless it is to secure or evacuate U.S. personnel and diplomatic facilities.” (June 2014,The Wall Street Journal)


"[I] wouldn't invite the refugees in the first place." (November 2015, Sunshine Summit)

"This incident alone raises serious questions about the system through which they came to the United States, and I am insisting on a full investigation on our practice of providing welfare to refugees. Legislation of this importance should not be passed without sufficient debate and a presentation of the information found from this investigation." (November 2015, Politico)

Paul added an amendment to Lindsey Graham’s bill that would eliminate all welfare to refugees. He claims his amendment said "that we’re not going to bring them here and put them on government assistance. When the poem beneath the Statue of Liberty says give me your tired, give me your poor, it didn’t say come to our country and we’ll put you on welfare.” (November 2015, Politico)

“In Syria, should we have sent all those weapons in to Islamic rebels who hate us and hate Israel, as well? Many of them who have said, when they're done with Assad, they're going to attack Israel … Should we give weapons to those people? … Let's see war as the last resort… [The no-fly zone over Syria] is the dumbest foreign policy idea I’ve heard, probably … For better or worse, Iraq and Syria invited Russia. They are currently flying over. So a no-fly zone would be saying, we are going to shoot down Russian planes because they are in a space that we declare as ours, but it's also a space the local countries have invited Russia to fly over.” (October 2015, Newsmax TV interview)

"Sometimes both sides of the civil war are evil, and sometimes intervention sometimes makes us less safe." (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

“We have make the decision now in Syria, should we topple Assad? Many up here wanted to topple Assad, and it's like -- I said no, because if you do...ISIS will now be in charge of Syria...” (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

When asked if the US should be accepting more Syrian refugees and what, if elected, would be his policy towards asylum seekers, Paul responded,  “We are a welcoming nation, and we have accepted a lot of refugees, and I think we will continue to do so. But we also can’t accept the whole world, so I think there are some limits.” (September 2015, CNN interview)

 “I don’t support arming the so-called Sunni moderates in Syria though. I said a year ago and I say it again now. The ultimate sad irony is that we are forced to fight against the very weapons we send to Syrians rebels … 600 tons of weapons have been given to the Syrian rebels, inadvertently creating a safe have for ISIS.”  (October 2014, paul.senate.gov)


“American tax dollars continue to flow to governments that openly seek the destruction of one of our nation’s biggest allies, Israel. My support has not and will not waiver; I will continue pushing to cut off all U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority until they recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, renounce terrorism, and purge terrorists from their ranks.”  (June 2015, paul.senate.gov)

Statement from official Rand Paul campaign website: "I’m proud to support Israel, America’s longtime friend and ally in the Middle East. Israeli cafés and buses are bombed, towns are victimized by hundreds of rockets, and its citizens are attacked by Palestinian terrorists. It’s time we took a stand for Israel by standing up to the enemies of Israel, the enemies that murder Israeli citizens. That’s why I proposed a bill called the “Stand with Israel Act” to cut off the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority. As long as the Palestinian Authority is allied with Hamas not one more tax dollar should flow to them." (randpaul.com)


No statements recorded. If you'd like to submit a statement to appear on this website, please email Kristin McCarthy.

Iran Nuclear Deal 

"Should we continue to talk with Iran? Yes. Should we cut up the agreement immediately? That’s absurd. Wouldn’t you want to know if they complied? Now, I’m going to vote against the agreement because I don’t’ think there’s significant leverage, but it doesn’t mean that I would immediately not look at the agreement, and cut it up without looking to see if whether or not Iran has complied.” (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

"I oppose the Iranian deal, and will vote against it. I don't think that the president negotiated from a position of strength, but I don't immediately discount negotiations. I'm a Reagan conservative. Reagan did negotiate with the Soviets. But you have to negotiate from a position of strength, and I think President Obama gave away too much, too early. If there's going to be a negotiation, you're going to have to believe somehow that the Iranians are going to comply. I asked this question to John Kerry, I said ‘do you believe they're trustworthy?’ and he said ‘No.’ And I said, ‘well, how are we gonna get them to comply?’ I would have never released the sanctions before there was consistent evidence of compliance.” (August 2015, Fox GOP Debate)

"I do believe that negotiation is better than war … what I would say is that there has always been a threat of Iran gaining nuclear weapons, and I think that’s greater now that it was many years ago. I think we should do everything we can to stop them.” (April 2015, Today News)

In speaking about whether Iran must recognize Israel’s existence as part of the framework, Sen. Paul commented, "I think that should always be a goal, but I don’t know whether it would work on this, or kill the deal.” (April 2015, Bloomberg)

Voting Rights

“So many times, Republicans are seen as this party of, ‘We don’t want black people to vote because they’re voting Democrat, we don’t want Hispanic people to vote because they’re voting Democrat. We wonder why the Republican Party is so small. Why don’t we be the party that’s for people voting, for voting rights?” (July 2015, Think Progress

“I’m not against there being a little bit of effort, but we shouldn’t make it hard. We shouldn’t do things to prevent people from voting, but we shouldn’t do things that encourage lapses in the system that allow people who aren’t legitimate voters.” (June 2015, Bloomberg)

Regarding extending voting rights to ex-felons, “I believe in these issues. But I’m a politician, and we want more votes … Even if Republicans don’t get more votes, we feel like we’ve done the right thing.” (June 2014, Politico)

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

"Let me be clear: disarming more law-abiding citizens will not stop mass murderers and terrorists. We should be advocating for more concealed carry ability for law-abiding Americans and an end to unconstitutional gun-free zones.” (December 2015, New York Times)

"The [NSA Surveillance Program] continues. The Paris tragedy and [San Bernadino] tragedy happened while we were still doing this collection, bulk collection.... We have to make the haystack smaller. We have to be careful about who comes here from the Middle East. People who want to come to this country don't have constitutional rights, once they get here they do. But coming here is not a constitutional right." (December 2015, NBC)

“The case that was decided around 1900 was, people had a green card, were here legally, and they said that their children were citizens. There's never been a direct Supreme Court case on people who were here illegally, whether or not their kids are citizens. So it hasn't really been completely adjudicated. The 14th Amendment says that "those who are here and under the jurisdiction." The original author of the -- of the 14th Amendment said on the Senate floor that this was applying to slaves, and did not specifically apply to others.” (September 2015, 2nd Republican Debate)

"We're good on the 2nd amendment. But we need to be good on the 4th amendment and the ENTIRE Bill of Rights." (September 2015, @RandPaul)

“Criminal justice reform would require leadership from someone who is unafraid to challenge the status quo. I won’t wait any longer, I’ve had enough. I will not rest until all Americans white and black, rich and poor, are treated equally under the law.” (April 2015, MSNBC)

“Our nation’s laws should focus on imprisoning the most dangerous and violent members of our society. Instead, our criminal justice system traps nonviolent offenders — disproportionately African-American men — in a cycle of poverty, unemployment, and incarceration.” (April 2015, Brennan Center)

“Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.” (August 2014, TIME)

“I don't think the random pat-downs are making us any safer. I want to know where the Middle Eastern students are that are here visiting our country. Are they in class, are they going to class, if they get on a plane. If you've been to Yemen twice in the last six months, I want to know who you are and know more about your travel. But most American citizens need to go through a relatively easy security process that's not too invasive and doesn't take away our dignity." (January 2012, Fox News)


“The bulk collection of you phone data, the invasion of your privacy did not stop one terrorist attack. I don’t think you have to give up your liberty for a false sense of security. When we look at this bulk collection, the court has looked at this. Even the court declared it to be illegal. If we want to collect the records of terrorists, let’s do it the old fashioned way. Let’s use the Fourth Amendment. Let’s put a name on a warrant, let’s ask a judge for it. Let’s respect the history of our nation.” (New York Times, 1/28/16)

“We spend billions of dollars scooping up all the phone records of millions of Americans and sending them to Utah, to a multi-billion-dollar science-fiction sort of headquarters there, to house all these records, when in reality what we ought to do is maybe spend more time on people who speak Arabic, people who are looking at public avenues and public access to see who are the ones talking and might want to harm us." (December 2015, WHO Radio with Dave Price)

"So when they stand up on television and say the tragedy in Paris means you have to give up your liberty, we need more phone surveillance — bull----!"  (November 19, 2015, George Washington University speech)

“I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans. The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution over! John Adams said it was the spark that led to our war for independence, and I’m proud of standing for the Bill of Rights, and I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights.” (August 2015, Fox GOP Debate)

“I believe that every American has a constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy which must be protected. Simply put, the phone records of law-abiding Americans are none of the government’s business!” (randpaul.com)

“As President of the United States, I will immediately end the NSA’s illegal bulk data collection and domestic spying programs and protect the Fourth Amendment rights of all Americans.” (randpaul.com)

Community Policing

“The escalation of the militarization of America’s police force has become increasingly alarming over recent years. Police departments are being equipped with military grade gear and equipment, usually with little to no oversight or documented training.” (April 2015, Brennan Center)

“The War on Drugs is principally responsible for the wide gap in confidence between minorities and the police. African Americans use drugs at roughly the same rate as whites, but are more than twice as likely as whites to be arrested for drug possession.” (April 2015, Brennan Center)

Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use

*The Arab American Institute is leading a campaign to hold public officials accountable for their bigoted rhetoric this election cycle. Join us by signing our Pledge to Combat Bigotry, and use #NoBigotry on social media to hold candidates accountable and thank candidates who stand against it.*

Regarding whether he agrees with a policy of closing down mosques where radical thinking is occurring, “No, I think that’s a – a huge mistake, to be closing down mosques.” (New York Times, 1/28/16)    

When asked if he would be comfortable having a Muslim president, Rand said, "It’s not so much what religion you are, it’s what you stand for. But we are no where near probably that happening, they are such a small part of our population. The hard part is, although we are a very pluralistic society, we are open to all religions, more free than any other country, the problem is the people who have been attacking us have been all of one religion and it’s hard to separate that. So I understand people saying ‘oh my goodness, how can that happen’…. It’s hard for us, we were attacked by people who were all Muslim.” (September 2015, CBS interview)

"I would say that we have to be vigilant for those who have come into our country, particularly from the Middle East. And I am for increased scrutiny of those who visit us, and I am for increased scrutiny of those who visit us from certain countries that do have camps overseas. There's probably about 25 countries -- if someone wants to immigrate here from Yemen tomorrow, I think there should be a certain amount of scrutiny of that person. Same for Syria, same for Iraq, same for Iran, same for Pakistan." (September 2015, Las Vegas town hall)

“I’m going to have our subcommittee and maybe committee in Homeland Security look into whether or not we could reinstitute this NSEERS [National Security Entry Exit Registration System] program—it was entry-exit program that was heightened scrutiny for 25 predominantly Muslim countries that have significant jihadist movements and anti-American sentiment in their country. We need increased scrutiny on those countries before those people come to our country to visit or permanently. We have to have heightened scrutiny.” (July 2015, Breitbart)

Immigration Reform

"What I put forward was an amendment that would have temporarily halted immigration from high-risk terrorist countries, but would have started it up, but I wanted them to go through Global Entry, which is a program where we do background checks. The thing is, is that every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration. Marco wants to expand that. I want more rules, more scrutiny, and to defend the country, you have to defend the border." (December 2015, CNN GOP Debate)

“Immigration visas & refugees from countries with active terror networks must be halted while we determine how to better secure our borders... His administration is focused on gun laws that won’t stop terrorists while pushing policies that will let more of them in the country." (December 2015, Twitter)

After the Paris terrorist attacks, Paul said, "We also have to be concerned about French citizens coming here. Most of the people involved in the attack, I think, are going to turn out to be French citizens. ... I would stop that. I would say nobody comes unless they're part of Global Entry." (November 2015, Fox News)

"Many argue that these children that are born to illegal aliens are really still under the jurisdiction of the Mexican government. I think we need to fight that out in the courts. If we lose, then I think we should amend the Constitution because I don't think the 14th amendment was meant to apply to illegal aliens. It was meant to apply to the children of slaves." (August 2015, Right Wing News)

“As President, I would secure our border immediately. Before issuing any visas or starting the legal immigration process, we must first ensure that our border is secure.” (randpaul.com)

“I do not support amnesty, but rather I support a legal immigration process. I recognize that our country has been enriched by those who seek the American Dream and have a desire for a better life. However, millions of illegal immigrants are crossing out border without our knowledge, and this threatens our national security.” (randpaul.com)