Rand Paul pauses after an interview in the spin room following the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo.
Photo by Brennan Linsley/AP

How Rand Paul would change presidential primary debates


DURHAM, New Hampshire —While his party scrambles to gain control over the next debates in the 2016 election cycle, Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul on Monday afternoon shared some of his own debate ideas with reporters.

“You know, 20 million people are watching the Republican primary debates and that’s a lot of people, makes a lot of money for the networks. I think that leverage should be used to get objective broadcasters or moderators,” he said. 

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“I saw one idea that I actually liked,” he added. “That would be a debate with no moderator, which would be kind of interesting, where you just sat around a table in groups of maybe five around a table and just had a discussion.” Paul said if there were moderators, he hoped they would go around to each candidate and ask them to compare their tax plans. 

The Kentucky senator’s comments come just five days after a debate that whipped the entire Republican presidential field into a frenzy over debate parameters. And on Sunday, 14 of the GOP’s 15 candidates met in unusual an attempt to seize control of the debate process. As of Monday morning, top aides to the Republican candidates were hammering out the final details of a letter they plan send to the TV networks scheduled to host the remaining GOP primary debates laying out a series demands for the upcoming events.

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Speaking to a group of college students and other local residents at the University of New Hampshire on Monday, Paul also took hard aim at President Obama’s decision to send 50 special forces to Syria in an advisory role, saying, “50 soldiers? Who goes to war with 50 soldiers? What’s the possibility that one of them is going to be captured or killed or tortured? Pretty high. I’m a believer that if you do go to war you go all in and you do go to win.” 

“I think that war on the ground should be fought by those who live there. I’m not for sending Americans over there,” he said. 

Paul opposes troops being sent to fight ISIS under the AUMF, calling it an “absurdity,” and said the responsibility should be left to Congress.

“I would have voted for the resolution,” he said. “It’s like 63 words long. It says we are going to go after the people that attacked us on 9/11. But they use that to justify another war 15 years later with ISIS. It has nothing to do with that. If you want to fight ISIS, let’s vote on it. But then be prepared to go.”

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Paul also blasted a no-fly zone over Syria, an idea that’s supported both by Hillary Clinton and several Republican candidates. “There’s going to be an accident. That is crazy and foolish,” Paul told the audience. “We don’t hear enough from the media and the public saying, ‘My goodness, having a no-fly zone is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of and it’s a recipe for WWIII.’ We need to have that discussion.”

Paul also told NBC News at the event that he hopes Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Kentucky is a “tipping point” for Republicans to win up and down the ballot.

“We’d like all of the Republicans to win across the slate because there are several Democrats in there that might decide that they want to run against me [for Senate] and I would rather run against a loser than a winner.”

Paul didn’t mention that the scenario would mean he’d lost the presidential election.

Debates and Rand Paul

How Rand Paul would change presidential primary debates