The grand hall where Sen. Rand Paul spoke on Thursday was festooned with six gold chandeliers, velvet drapes, tapestries commemorating the great conquerors of the world—Magellan, Columbus, Vespucci, Cortez—and, covering the majority of the back wall, an enormous American flag.
In what was billed as a "fireside chat" with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington during Lincoln Labs' Reboot Congress conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Paul broached a wide range of topics, including one he was not too thrilled to talk about—vaccines. There was no fireplace, or visible fire, in the room.
Republicans across the board are racing to court the tech sector—both for its dynamism and its funding—ahead of 2016. Thursday's conference gave Paul a shot at showing why he stands apart from the ever-growing pack, and why his brand of libertarian politics has the most to offer Silicon Valley.
When Arrington told Paul he had a question about vaccines, Paul quipped back, "You don't want to be shushed, do you?" Arrington quickly ingratiated himself. "I loved that, by the way," he said, referring to Paul's contentious CNBC interview earlier this month.
Paul went on to defend his original comments to CNBC, in which he said, "I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines."