Failing to meet the criteria set by the Fox Business Network to be eligible for the main stage of Thursday's GOP presidential debate, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is boycotting the debate completely. While offered a spot on the "undercard" debate with Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee, the Paul campaign refused to take part in anything that was less than "top-tier."
Instead, Senator Paul accepted an invitation to a "Singles Night" version of the GOP Debate by Trevor Noah of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. While he will miss out on the opportunity to square off once again with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, he was instead given a platform to explain his position to an audience made up mostly of independents and liberals.
"I have an important voice" @RandPaul blames both @FoxNews & #RNC for leaving him off main stage @ #GOPDebate https://t.co/F5iLhKgWWv
— Alisyn Camerota (@AlisynCamerota) January 14, 2016
Playing devil's advocate in a very respectful way, Noah asked Paul to explain his Libertarian-leaning positions on some hot-button issues. Shared over an assortment of Kentucky whiskeys, Noah asked Senator Paul about four key issues.
War in the Middle East
Senator Paul says that his approach to the Middle East is different than most of the other presidential candidates. He does not think bombing the Middle East is the answer.
"The question is: if you bomb civilian centers and you kill civilians, will there be more terrorists or less terrorists?"
Clearly not an advocate for the United States to be involved in war anytime it's not necessary, he asks Republicans who think differently to consider the following question, "If you get rid of Assad, who's going to take over the place? ISIS."Economy
Transitioning from war to finances, Noah asked Rand to explain what he means when he says he wants to "deregulate."
"Money goes where it is welcomed. And so, if we make the regulatory burden too high or the tax burden too high, I think the consequence is [that] jobs are gone."
As the video posted by Comedy Central shows, Senator Paul clarified that he isn't arguing for absolutely no regulation at all but for regulation within reason. As an example, he explained how the Clean Water Act was a good idea initially but has since gotten out of control.
"I think we've gone too far," he tells Noah. "We put a guy in Mississippi in jail for ten years for putting dirt on his own land."
He also touched briefly on his idea for a flat tax rate of 14.5 percent.Drugs
In part two of Rand Paul's solo GOP Debate, Noah asked another direct -- and popular -- question, "If Rand Paul was president, would it be illegal to smoke weed?" Predictably, Paul pointed to states rights."
"Colorado has decided that [marijuana] is not illegal. I think that is completely Colorado's purview. There shouldn't be federal laws against most things."
He does clarify that there are some rights that should supersede states rights, such as the 14th Amendment.Gun Control
Having a unique perspective on the issue as a recent immigrant to the United States, Noah asked Paul about his thoughts on gun control.
"I think the ownership of guns, with the 2nd Amendment, is a guarantee. It's just as important as any of the rest of the Bill of Rights."
Agreeing that it is, indeed, a guarantee made to the American people, the two spend a few minutes discussing why it is that guns have become so important to Americans. When Noah brought up the possibility of changing or removing the 2nd Amendment, Paul acknowledged that changes to the Constitution should be made when necessary, but the difficult task in making that change is not only intentional but also good.
In the end, Paul's Libertarian sentiment came through with his response to one simple question.
When discussing the idea of freedom and people being left alone, Trevor Noah asked him point blank, "People left alone... to do what?"
"Whatever the hell they want to do," Paul replied.
Tonight's GOP debate -- sans Rand Paul -- begins at 6 p.m. EST.
[Image via Comedy Central]