Sen. Rand Paul says he'd be willing to make a principled vote against raising the debt ceiling without conditions but would not want to be "the fly in the ointment that shuts the government down."
Appearing Monday on Fox News Channel's "Special Report,"
Paul acknowledged that he and his fellow Republicans will have diminished leverage when the debt ceiling fight renews in January, but said he would still would vote for "the principled position."
Noting that he is in the minority party in the Senate, Paul explained, "Sometimes you vote 'no' and the government still stays open."
Panelist Charles Krauthammer asked whether Paul would stick by that position if he ended up being the deciding vote to break a tie.
"If it's a tie and I'm the deciding vote, I have to vote for what everybody in Kentucky wants, and that is, we can't raise the debt ceiling unconditionally," Paul said.
Paul said he was opposed to letting the government shut down, unlike the position led by fellow tea party Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
"Even though it did appear as if I was participating in it, I said it was a dumb idea," he said.
He ended up casting a vote that led to the 16-day shutdown because it was a "conundrum," he said. With a $17 trillion debt, people in his state of Kentucky told him that President Barack Obama could not keep getting a blank check by allowing the debt ceiling to be raised without conditions.
Republicans suffered in the polls after the October shutdown, and recent reports indicate the party isn't keen on allowing it to happen again
Paul is thought to be eyeing a 2016 presidential run, and panelist Mara Liasson asked whether people would not prefer an outsider to a Washington insider.
Paul said he thinks he is still perceived as an outsider because he wants to see things done differently in Washington, including promoting term limits.
Liasson hinted that people might like a conservative governor of a blue state, alluding to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's comment
in recent days.
"I don't know that a governor is necessarily an outsider," Paul said. "I think you want somebody who maybe hasn't spent their whole life in politics, people who have had another career."
Paul has a previous career as an eye surgeon.
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