Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul touted smaller government as he campaigned through Minnesota in advance of Tuesday's GOP candidate debate in Wisconsin.
Paul, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, spoke at University of Minnesota campuses in both the Twin Cities and Duluth before an afternoon rally in Rochester and an evening fundraiser in Orono.
In Minneapolis, Paul told students, "I kind of want a government that minds its own business. I want a government so small I can barely see it," MPR News reports.
Paul specifically criticized the government's collection of cell phone data without a warrant, MPR says.
Paul tells MinnPost students believe the government has gone too far by collecting of phone records, and the website notes that in the Senate Paul fought against renewal of the Patriot Act.
Paul delivered a similar message in Duluth, telling students he's "the candidate who will leave you alone," KBJR 6 reports.
Polls have shown Paul struggling to break out of the crowded Republican field of candidates. But his advisers tell the Associated Press Paul is also competing with Democrat Bernie Sanders for support from disenchanted voters who swing between parties.
As WCCO reports, Paul mentioned Sanders in his Minneapolis remarks, criticizing the Vermont Senator's plan for free college tuition by saying "There is no free lunch! Bernie can only pay for your college by taking it from somebody else.”
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Rand Paul's attention to Minnesota may be fueled by the strong support his father's 2012 presidential bid received here. Ron Paul, who stressed some of the same libertarian themes his son emphasizes, was supported by most of Minnesota's delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention.
The Star Tribune reports Rand Paul was the first in this year's Republican field to hire a Minnesota staffer and says Paul has been focused on building a grassroots campaign in the state.