Rand Paul tells audience he would use executive orders only to rescind past orders if elected president

Chris Moody, Yahoo News
Yahoo News
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If elected president, Rand Paul would only issue executive orders to overturn dictates from his predecessors, the Kentucky senator told an audience in Louisville on Tuesday, according to a local news report.

After a wide-ranging speech to the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, an audience member asked Paul if he would issue executive orders as president.

“Only to undo executive orders,” Paul responded, according to Phillip M. Bailey, a reporter for the Louisville-based WFPL News. “There’s thousands of them that can be undone. And I would use executive orders to undo executive orders that have encroached on our jurisprudence, our ability to defend ourselves, the right to a trial, all of those I would undo through executive order.”

Paul’s comments come at a time of Republican frustration with President Obama’s use of 184 executive orders during his six and a half years in the White House. Obama has threatened to use more orders related to issues such as immigration, for instance, if Congress continues to remain in legislative gridlock. (By contrast, former President George W. Bush issued 291 such orders over the course of his two terms.)

If Paul were to commit to a pledge of only issuing executive orders to overturn past ones, it would severely restrict his power as president should he launch a successful bid. But as a possible presidential contender who regularly voices support for restricting the size and scope of government, his rhetoric in favor of dialing back the executive branch is at the heart of Paul’s appeal to many supporters.

When asked about his answer to the question after his speech, Paul seemed to scale back his remarks, but reiterated the belief that presidents should rely less on executive orders and more on working with Congress to achieve legislative goals.

“My inclination would be that there have been too many executive orders and that really you shouldn’t legislate through executive orders," Paul said, according to WPFL News. "I never want to make a blanket statement without looking at everything. My general inclination is you should have less executive orders, but that the executive orders could be used to undo a lot of executive orders that have overstepped their bounds.”

Paul has made it no secret that he is considering a bid for the presidency in 2016. The junior senator has made frequent trips to states that hold early presidential primaries and caucuses, such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.