The United States has lost a great deal of credibility through the damaging leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul believes the only way the nation can start fresh is "with somebody new in charge" of the nation's intelligence services.
"I don't know whether any information has been distributed to foreign powers," Paul told ABC's "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. But he renewed his calls
made during the summer for National Intelligence Director James Clapper to resign after claims made to the Senate that the United States doesn't collect information on Americans.
"I haven't heard of anybody talking about repercussions for him," Paul said.
The NSA leaks have shown the United States is "spying not only on foreign leaders, but there's an accusation that we spied on the pope as well," Paul said.
"I think really, that there are problems, and we've lost a lot of credibility," said Paul. "The only way I think you could start afresh is with somebody new in charge of your intelligence."
Paul denied claims by Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz that a fight for privacy issues could keep him from ever elected president.
Cruz had said in an interview, reported in The New York Times
, that Paul "can never fully detach himself from the strident libertarianism of his father, former Representative Ron Paul of Texas."
But Paul said his call for privacy rights will not hurt him politically.
"Look at the president's numbers dropping," said Paul. "With the young people, they've dropped 20 points in the last two months. I think the reason is because he's not protecting their privacy. Young people don't care so much about taxes and regulation, but they've all got a cell phone and they're all on the Internet and they do care about their privacy."
Paul said defend privacy rights "will attract new people to the party, not less people."
Paul refused to "disparage" Cruz, even though many are seeing him as a potential rival if both men seek the presidency in 2016.
"I think we're a long way away from that," said Paul. "I haven't even convinced my wife yet whether I should do this. But Ted and I are friends. And he's a limited government conservative. We don't always agree on everything, but we agree on a lot of things. So I won't be coming on television to try to disparage him, whether we're ever rivals or not."
Paul also commented on the extensive problems that continue with Obamacare.
In his state, 26,000 Kentuckians have signed up with healthcare exchanges for coverage, but the numbers are not all that positive, he said.
"Nearly 90 percent of them are signing up for Medicaid, free health insurance from the government," said Paul. "My concern is not that we shouldn't help people. I do want to help these people to get insurance. But there is going to be a cost."
In addition, the rural hospitals in his state may be bankrupted when they're overwhelmed with Medicare patients.
But even if the healthcare.gov website problems are fixed, Paul isn't confident Obamacare will work, and he thinks "there are fundamental things government can do. But government shouldn't take on new opportunities or new things to do when it's not managing what it has now."
Paul commented on claims that he was plagiarizing parts of his speeches, after complaints came from several media outlets that language was lifted from Wikipedia.
Paul said he's borrowed lines from different places, and "the footnote police have really been dogging me for the past week."
But he also said he's given thousands of speeches and not gotten "into the secondary sources and say I quoted Einstein as according to an AP story or as according to Wikipedia."
Further, he said that speeches shouldn't be held to the same standards as scientific papers.
However, he said that he does take it as an insult when people call him dishonest or misrepresenting over his speeches.
"If dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge," said Paul. "But I can't do that, because I can't hold office in Kentucky then."
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