PALATINE - If Republicans in Illinois are beaten down and discouraged, they didn't show it at last night's Northwest Suburban Republican Lincoln Day Dinner where more than 650 people came out to hear U.S. Senator Rand Paul.
Ryan Higgins, the Republican Committeeman for Schaumburg Township, attributed the success of the dinner to high enthusiasm among party regulars as well as an influx of new members.
As an outspoken member of the U.S. Senate, Paul charmed the crowd by gently poking fun at his GOP colleagues.
"We meet three times a week with the Republican caucus," Paul said. "With the group now down to 45, we've gotten to know each other pretty well and sometimes it's an echo chamber. If you say, 'I'm for the Second Amendment,' you get slapped on the back and everybody loves you. But you go down the list, and it's not always such a consensus. Once you get to the Fourth Amendment, you're not getting everybody."
"You may not realize this, but they gave up on the Fourth Amendment when they stopped issuing warrants before examining your bank records," Paul said. "I don't know about you, but everything's on my Visa card. You can tell if I go to a doctor, you can tell if I drink, if I gamble. For goodness sake, shouldn't you have to issue a warrant before you look at my Visa bill?"
That topic led to a discussion in the Republican caucus about "indefinite detention," Paul said. "I raised my hand and said, those prisoners should have the right to trial by jury."
So as the senators' caucus discussion over the Defense Authorization Act progressed, how battle detainees should be treated came up, Paul said.
"I said to Senator McCain, 'We're going to send an American citizen to Guatanamo Bay based on an accusation, with no trial by jury?' And he said 'Yes, they're dangerous.'"
"The problem is, that's what juries are for, to determine if the accused is guilty," Paul said. "We fought a Revolutionary War over general warrants, where no names were put on those warrants.
"You see," Paul said, "It's about the Fourth, the Fifth, the Sixth in the Bill of Rights - it's not all about the Second Amendment."
Those in the Senate caucus who agreed with Paul say nothing, and those who disagree are the most vocal. But he was heartened by the response of one in the caucus, Paul said.
"One senator did speak up in support of me and that was Senator Mark Kirk," Paul said. "I didn't know him well at the time, but he was very eloquent and he actually lifted his copy of the Constitution and took it and read through it."
Then Paul turned to the Obama Administration's controversial use of attack drones.
"I hate terrorists as much as anyone, and they should be killed on the battlefield," Paul said. "But we can't let drones fly around threatening U.S. citizens. What you need to understand in this controversy over drones is we're not talking about someone with a grenade launcher on their shoulder. Some of these people being killed by drones are in their house or in a cafeteria.
"I've said a lot of bad things about the government," Paul said. I don't want them coming to my house with a drone." Paul said, emphasizing the Obama Administration's plan to use drones, even within America boundaries, is vague and without geographic boundaries.
"Can't we have a little more assurance from the president that he won't attack American citizens without a trial?"
Privacy issues, drones, prisoner rights are all a part of the discussions that have come up in recent U.S. Senate hearings, he said, from the nomination for Intelligence Chief Brennan to the Benghazi incident and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Paul told the audience Secretary Clinton should have resigned immediately after Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others were killed in Benghazi.
The Republican audience applauded after the Clinton comment and again when Paul said, "I told her it was inexcusable that you didn't help those people [at the Libyan consulate].
Paul is considering a bid for the White House in 2016, and he met privately with local Republican donors such as Jack Roeser and Bruce Rauner before dinner. After meeting with Roeser and Rauner, Paul visited with local Republican officials, including Cook County GOP Chairman Aaron Del Mar, Wheeling Township GOP Committeeman Ruth O'Connell, Schaumburg Township GOP Committeeman Ryan Higgins, Lyons Township Committeeman Jim Falvey and Palos Township Committeeman Sean Morrison.
Earlier in the day, Paul met at a private luncheon in Chicago with Family Federal PAC supporters at the invitation of the group's Executive Director Paul Caprio.