Kentucky Senator and marathon filibusterer Rand Paul brought his invigorated libertarian stump speech to an enraptured audience (and Metallica) at CPAC on Thursday, inveighing that the GOP needs to change by returning to the classical principles spelled out in the country's constitution. "The Republican Party has to change," he told the largely conservative crowd, a statement which deviated significantly from one given minutes earlier by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who argued that the party doesn't need to change anything. Paul went even further with his Tea Party messaging, by casting aspersions of the Republican Party's leadership, who, Paul suggested, were responsible for letting the party fall into disrepair. "The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered," he said. "I don't think we need to name any names."
Policy-wise, Paul stuck to advocating robust gun rights and criticizing the Obama administration's drone strike program, the particulars of which remain hidden from public scrutiny. (Unlike Rubio, he declined to address the party's stance toward marriage equality and abortion.) Most radically, he promised to submit a budget that would eliminate the federal Department of Education, which administers education-related funding to states and individuals attending college (in the form of loans and grants). Beyond specific proposals, Paul encouraged the GOP to "jealously guard all of our liberties." To do so, he said, the GOP needs to renew its fidelity to the so-called "Reagan's law," named after the former president. "For liberty to expand," Paul said, "the government must shrink."
His introductory music carried a theme of dissonance, too. Whereas Rubio was introduced by Top 40 hit "What Makes You Beautiful" (by British boy band One Direction), Paul arrived on stage to Metallica's megahit, "Enter Sandman," whose lyrics read (in part):
Something's wrong, shut the light Heavy thoughts tonight And they aren't of snow white Dreams of war Dreams of lies Dreams of dragons fire And of things that will bite, yeah
Watch Paul's entire speech here, Metallica and serious cheering included: