WAVERLY | Young people tend to be the most difficult to rally to the polls, but Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul is hoping to change that dynamic in 2016 by laying out an agenda that he believes will appeal to those unlikely voters in particular.
Paul, a United States senator from Kentucky, has been touring 11 college campuses in Iowa seeking to get 10,000 college students to the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses. That tour brought him to Wartburg College in Waverly, where 150 people -- mostly students -- heard his platform.
“We think that the platform that I represent has a great deal of attraction to kids,” Paul told The Courier ahead of his event Tuesday evening.
He highlighted three policies in particular that he sees common ground with young voters: that the government should not be collecting their phone records, nor putting them in jail for minor drug offenses, nor sending them to war.
Paul’s about 20-minute speech focused mostly on the last policy position.
“There’s an alarming number of people on the Republican side and the Democrat side who I’m afraid will get us involved in World War III if we’re not careful, because they have a very simplistic and juvenile notion that we have to beat our chest,” Paul told the crowd.
Paul said his non-interventionist position separates him from the frontrunners on both sides of the aisle, as well as many of the other candidates. He said both Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump have supported no-fly zones over Syria, which he opposes.
“It’s the dumbest idea, I think, that has come along in a generation, and yet Hillary Clinton is for it and so are the majority of the Republicans,” Paul told The Courier, adding, “Maybe we should defend what our American interests are, debate what American interests are, and defend those.”
His foreign policy stances earned praise from a trio of Waverly-Shell Rock High School students who do not count themselves among the supporters of Paul. Robert Lynch and Zebediah Figura said they agreed with his foreign policy stances but not the economic positions he outlined.
“I was surprised by how much I agreed with him … but I’m not ready to go vote for him,” Lynch said.
Both attended the event along with friend Cade Olmstead, who calls himself a socialist and has met with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and otherwise hearing from Democratic presidential candidates. He said politics has been a lifelong interest of his.
Wartburg College freshman Colin Richard, on the other hand, was looking to hear anything he could disagree with Paul on and can’t name a single issue yet. The first-time voter, and likely Republican caucus-goer, said he supports Paul’s stances on foreign policy and privacy in particular.