U.S. Republican Sen. Rand Paul came to Clark Friday to endorse former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in his run for Senate against Newark Democratic Mayor Cory Booker.
A crowd of about 200 people turned out for the public rally portion of the event and cheered as Paul took the podium.
Paul, a leader among the Tea Party, has recently stated that he is also considering a run for president in 2016. He focused his remarks Friday on reining in government spending, but began by joking about "T-Bone," a drug dealer Booker once claimed he befriended and later admitted was a composite character based on many people he'd met.
"Did you hear who T-Bone's dating?" Paul asked the crowd. "Remember when the president wrote his autobiography, he had a composite girlfriend made up of all his girlfriends..."
Paul then launched into "the need for minimizing government," quoting Milton Friedman that "nobody spends somebody else's money as wisely as you spend your own."
He rattled off a list of spending items under the Obama administration, including $325,000 for a robotic squirrel, half a million on "a menu for Mars," $1.8 million for developing "roll-up beef jerky," $5 million on "studying the collective action of fish," and $8 million on homeland security in Fargo, North Dakota.
"I say if the terrorists get to Fargo, we might as well surrender!" Paul said.
Paul also addressed the criticism he's received for opposing disaster relief for the state after Hurricane Sandy.
"It's a lie," Paul said. "I introduced an amendment to spend $9 billion for the first year and to revisit it after a year, and to take that money from money we are spending building bridges in Pakistan. It's not about having disaster relief funds. It's about being responsible taxpayers and not borrowing from China to rebuild in New Jersey."
He also spoke about "issues disproportionately affecting African-Americans in the country" including "crappy schools" and imprisonment for non-violent drug crimes.
"A youthful mistake should not keep you out of the marketplace, able to get a job, and it should not prevent your right to vote for the rest of your life when you didn't hurt anybody but yourself," Paul said.
Paul appealed to the crowd gathered that Lonegan could win, even in a historically Democratic state like New Jersey, if they helped convince friends. Currently, Lonegan lags well behind Booker in the polls.
"He only wins in a blue state like this if you go out and you turn every friend out and then make some new friends and turn them out, also," said Paul. "The Republicans can win in New Jersey, the same way Republicans can win in a presidential election, if we become a bigger party. We need a party with ties, without ties, with ponytails, without ponytails, with earrings, without earrings, tattoos, without tattoos, black, white, brown. We need a party that looks like the rest of America and we can be that party."
Paul invited Gov. Christie to join, but the governor declined, saying he'd be out of town. The two have also been feuding.
"We struck out on the beer summit, but we welcome him to come to Kentucky, and I'm actually going to get him bourbon," Paul said when asked about the governor as he made his way out.