Rand Paul hits up SXSW, wants to ‘legalize freedom’

Rand Paul stopped by the SXSW Festival last weekend to show the tech savvy youth of today that he is a pretty cool dude who gets it when it comes to the issues they care about like privacy and cool apps.

“I do Snapchat,” the Republican and probable candidate for president at one point said.

During an interview with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, the Senator from Kentucky did his best to woo the young tech crowd by linking concern over NSA spying programs with the libertarian narrative of an intrusive and abusive government. He referred to those in the latest generations of voters who are receptive to his message as the “leave me alone coalition.”

“Tech is important, but so is substance,” the Senator said, a point that was substantiated to the crowd by his brown cowboy boots and jeans. “I’m the only candidate who thinks that the NSA program on bulk collection of your phone records should be shut down.”

And to demonstrate that he also knows how the Internet works, he added: “So, for example, if any of the people who like that look online for an article that says the NSA shouldn’t be doing that, it may well be that they see an ad from us, and that’s the way the Internet works, is liking and tagging your ideas to other ideas out there that people are interested in.”

Paul lodged a few zingers at Hillary Clinton, criticizing her statement that her private email server was secure since it had been guarded 24/7, saying that “hackers would not be coming in through her window.”

“What does she think there’s like floppy disks down there?” he joked, definitely connecting with the crowd.

All the cool points Paul had earned during the interview were likely squandered though when he totally biffed it on a question regarding net neutrality, saying he did not support the FCC’s recent decision that would classify the Internet as a utility and that it was another example of the government interfering with the marketplace. Who knows, though? Maybe the tech industry doesn’t care about the Internet.

During the interview, Paul’s social media team took to Twitter to publicize the event with the hashtag #randsxsw. Here are some highlights:

[Bloomberg | TechCrunch]