Kentucky Senator Rand Paul — a likely 2016 presidential candidate — kicked off a three-day campaign-style swing through Iowa with a swipe at President Obama’s use of executive orders.
“I mean really, he’s going to act without the authority of you or your congressman. He’s just going to act. It doesn’t matter what your opinion is on immigration — I frankly think we could do some kind of reform, but you can’t do it by royal edict,” Paul told a crowd in Council Bluffs this afternoon. “We can’t have a king doing it.”
Paul accused Obama of “arrogance” by presenting what Paul said was an “imperial notion” of the extent of a president’s power.
“So when the president does things unilaterally and makes statements like: ‘I have no choice. I must act,’ that concerns those of us who believe that the constitution was put in place to restrain government, not the people,” Paul said during an interview with Radio Iowa.
Paul has not discussed the matter with colleagues, but he said it’s possible he and several other Republican senators will file a “friend of the court” brief in support of the lawsuit Republicans in the U.S. House are pursuing on the subject.
Paul spoke early this afternoon to about 50 people crowded into the Pottawattamie County GOP headquarters. While Paul expressed optimism about Republican prospects in 2014, he reminded the crowd of past GOP failures.
“We haven’t won statewide election here in a while. We won the governorship, of course, but we haven’t won the senate for a while. We lost the presidential election (in 2008 and 2012),” Paul told the crowd of Republicans in Council Bluffs. “I don’t have to remind you — you’ve got some work cut out for you.”
Paul waded into Iowa’s U.S. Senate race pitting Repbulican Joni Ernst against Democrat Bruce Braley, mentioning the video of Braley warning a Texas crowd that if Democrats lose the Senate, Chuck Grassley could become chairman of a key Senate committee.
“You know what, I think there could be nothing better for Iowa than to have farmer running the Judiciary Committee,” Paul said, to cheers from the crowd. “See, I’m a physician so you don’t have to work very hard to convince me that you’d rather have a farmer than a lawyer most days.”
Paul, serving in his first term in the United States Senate, smiled broadly when a reporter asked if his Iowa visit is part of his “groundwork” for the 2016 presidential race.
“We don’t really have a definite plan yet, but I’ve told people, you know, ‘I’m thinking about it,'” Paul said. “But some of it coming to meet people and see whether or not your message resonates, see whether or not you can help other candidates to win and that kind of thing.”
Paul has already assembled a team of advisors in Iowa and they are traveling with him today. Two are men who worked on his father’s 2012 Iowa Caucus campaign. The other is a former state legislator who served as chairman of the Iowa GOP a decade and a half ago.
Paul is the first of several out-of-state politicians who are due to arrive in Iowa this week for a variety of events, visits seen as signals of their interest in seeking the Republican Party’s next presidential nomination.