WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is ready to take the gloves off at tonight’s Republican presidential debate.
Speaking to “CBS This Morning” on Thursday, the GOP presidential candidate says he’s ready to “mix it up” with the other nine candidates who will share the stage with him.
“Why not mix it up on the ideas and issues of the day? It doesn’t mean it has to be impolite, doesn’t mean it has to be rude, but we need to mix it up because really this campaign and who becomes the president ought to be about ideas and who can best lead the country,” the Kentucky senator said. “And I don’t think … you can just say anything and all of a sudden we’re in some sort of reality TV show. I think there needs to be a substantive debate.”
Paul enters tonight’s first debate well behind the pack. The latest CBS News poll shows Paul only garnering 4 percent of support from Republican voters. Donald Trump leads all candidates at 24 percent.
Paul explained to “CBS This Morning” he has been having trouble getting traction to get his message out because of the “billion dollars’ worth of news media” coverage for Trump.
“I don’t blame anyone. The news is what the news is, but you have to admit that there has been an extraordinary amount of attention paid to one person. I think that anybody’s numbers would rise with that amount of attention,” Paul said.
He said his job tonight is to “breakthrough” from the pack.
“Our job tonight is to step up, defend and maybe demolish some other bad ideas that our out there or point out that maybe there are some empty suits without ideas,” Paul noted.
The senator also touched on his nephew-in-law Jesse Benton, who was a top aide to Ron Paul’s 2012 president campaign, being indicted for allegedly conspiring to buy the support of an up-and-coming Iowa state senator in the days before that year’s Iowa caucus. Benton, along with former aides John Tate and Dimitrios Kesair, face charges of conspiracy, falsifying documents and several other related crimes in a federal indictment that was unsealed. Rand Paul called the timing “suspicious.”
“It’s a little bit suspicious to me though that it just happened to take four years and then … President Obama’s administration decides to do something on the eve of the debate. So I think that’s at least suspiciously timed,” Paul told “CBS This Morning.”
Thursday’s debate is the first of six Republican Party-sanctioned debates scheduled before primary voting begins in February. Fox News used five national polls to determine which 10 candidates would be on the stage, and several candidates were grouped together in the single digits — most separated by a number smaller than the polls’ margin of error.
Ahead of the debate, Trump said he doesn’t plan to attack his rivals. “I’d rather just discuss the issues,” he said Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
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