In a speech in San Francisco, presidential candidate Rand Paul told Silicon Valley conservatives that he could win over Californians and other voters not normally associated with the Republican Party largely on issues of civil liberties and technology.
At the Disrupting Democracy speaker series hosted by Lincoln Labs, a tech-friendly conservative organization, Paul made the case for appealing to younger voters by way of ending mass data collection, an activity he said went against one of the main reasons young people voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
"I also think people who voted for President Obama was because they thought he was a civil libertarian," Paul said.
Saturday's speech was part of Paul's message of reaching to nontraditional GOP voters. Last year, he spoke at the University of California at Berkeley, which is not viewed as a conservative bastion.
Paul made the case that criminal justice reform could be a way to appeal to voters, noting that the Republican Party often touts itself as the party of the Second Amendment.
"I want to also be the party of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment but also the Fifth and Sixth Amendment," Paul said. As part of this, Paul talked about restoring the right to vote for convicted felons.
Paul also held firm to his opposition to net neutrality, saying he had not seen concerns about internet monopolies that could control rates being manifested.
"I don't think there is yet evidence that there's absolute control of rates," adding if there was any organization involved with monopolies, it was government monopolies. Paul also dismissed the idea that it would make it harder for small startup companies to succeed.
"The government didn't create Facebook and the government didn't create Google," he said.
Another issue to which Paul stated his opposition was the refinancing student loans, an idea championed by some progressives, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"It'd lead to chaos," he said, also criticizing the White House proposal for free community college as "absurd," and instead suggested his proposal to make college tuition tax-deductible.
"People said there wouldn't be enough money for government; well, government would have to be smaller," Paul said.
Meanwhile, Paul pushed back on an idea being promoted by the California secretary of state to make voter registration automatic.
"I am of the belief that getting off your sofa to participate is required," Paul said, adding that he did not like the idea of having ballots mailed to voters, even though some have posited that Republicans are more likely to vote by mail, while Democrats are likely to vote early and in person.
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Eric Garcia is a staff correspondent for National Journal. He previously was a transparency reporter for MarketWatch, where he reported on financial regulation issues. His work has also appeared in the Southern Political Report, Salon, the American Prospect and the New Republic. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and covered politics for its campus paper, the Daily Tar Heel.