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Rand Paul Goes to Howard

3:29 PM, Apr 10, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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“Both of them made mistakes. Both of them were said to have used illegal drugs. One of them was white, from a privileged background. He had important friends, an important father, and an important grandfather,” Paul said. “His family could buy justice if he needed it. The other man also used illegal drugs, but he was of mixed race and from a single-parent household with little money. He didn’t have important friends or a wealthy father. Now you may think I’m going to tell you a story about racism in America, where the rich white kid gets off and the black kid goes to jail. It could be and often is. But that’s not this story. In this story, both young men were extraordinarily lucky. Both young men were not caught using illegal drugs, and they weren’t in prison. Instead they went on to become presidents of the United States.”

The students let out a few shocked gasps. “Barack Obama and George Bush were lucky,” Paul concluded. The audience erupted in laughter. They hadn’t expected it.

For a while, it seemed like Paul had won over his audience—or at least had grabbed their interest. Perhaps these Howard University students weren’t going to leave the auditorium and sign up to stand with Rand. They’d probably continue to vote Democratic. But maybe this goofy Republican doctor talking about liberty and economic freedom and individualism had planted a seed.

It didn’t last long. Asked a tough question about how the Republican party of Lincoln’s era looks nothing like the party of Nixon and Reagan, Paul decided to quote the first black senator ever elected, a Republican from Massachusetts. The problem is he couldn’t remember his name. The students erupted, yelling out, “Edward Brooke! Edward Brooke!” Brooke had graduated from Howard, after all.

Paul nodded, thanking the crowd for jogging his memory. “Edwin Brooks, yeah,” he said. 

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