(by Cathleen Decker, LA Times) -- Fewer than 50 days before an election that may give Republicans control of the Senate as well as the House, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Saturday skipped past those contests entirely to focus on one in which he may play a more central role — the 2016 presidential race.
Paul, the featured speaker at the California Republican convention, made no mention of the party’s national advantages this year. He blasted President Obama and potential Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton as insufficient present or future commanders-in-chief. He insisted that the GOP must dramatically expand its reach in order to win presidential contests — a strategy that coincides with his pre-presidential efforts.
He accused Obama of confounding the Constitution when he expanded Obamacare, moved against overseas targets without specific congressional authorization, and announced plans — since delayed — to use executive action to change the nation’s immigration laws.
“It is a terrible tragedy, it is a danger to us as a country, and we need to do everything we can to stop him from abusing our laws,” Paul said. He said later, "We have a president who basically has created a lawless atmosphere in Washington.”
Speaking about Clinton, he used her famous 2008 primary ad, which argued that she more than Obama would be the president capable of answering a phone call about a middle-of-the-night crisis:
“I think she had a 3 a.m. moment. She didn’t answer the phone, and I think it absolutely should preclude her from being [president],” he said after detailing what he termed her failings leading up to the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. (His final word was obscured by applause from the strongly anti-Clinton crowd.)