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State Sen. Jeb Bradley, left, and Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey, right, pose with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus before Monday night's Liberty Dinner in Concord Monday night. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)

Ky. Sen. Rand Paul to NH GOP: Let's look like America

CONCORD — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul urged fellow Republicans at a New Hampshire GOP fundraiser Monday night to become a more diversified party, and also sharply criticized the Obama administration for threats to civil liberties.

The Kentucky senator was the featured speaker at the New Hampshire Republican Party's "Liberty Dinner," which also featured national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus.

Both met with reporters before the event and said more facts need to unfold in the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups before deciding what kind of punishment is appropriate.

"I think we need to figure out the truth of what happened before we go anywhere else," Paul told reporters.

He took a much stronger stance in his 30-minute speech to more than 500 Republican supporters.

"Somebody's got to be fired, if not go to prison," Paul said, drawing one of many rounds of applause.

He also said the GOP needs to improve from within if it hopes to reclaim the White House. "We need to grow bigger. If you want to be the party of white people, we're winning all the white votes," he said. "We're a diverse nation. We're going to win when we look like America."

Priebus, who spoke before Paul, also touched on the IRS scandal and the Justice Department's

seizure of telephone records from the Associated Press.

"Now we have government gone wild," Priebus said. "Some people wonder why we're for limited, accountable government. I think recent events should remove any doubt why these principles are so important to the Republican Party."

Paul addressed the issue before his speech, saying the government had crossed the line by taking the records without obtaining a warrant.

"I think there should be a very high bar for going after records of the media," Paul said. "I'm a strong believer that the First Amendment does extend some privileges to the media that we want to keep because the media helps to get news out of people who are opposed to government policy. I think if we stifle that it's essentially akin to stifling dissent."

New Hampshire Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn thanked Paul for a $10,000 donation he made to the state GOP.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte drew applause when she was recognized during opening remarks; the mention of Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen set off several "boos."

One topic Paul had no interest in discussing was whether New Hampshire should approve casino gambling.

"It's a state issue, really," Paul said. "I'm a big believer in federalism and I think New Hampshire should get to decide that."

Trace Adkins
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