Soon-to-be-Kentucky Senator Rand Paul once appeared to express anxiety that the state of affairs in America was opening a path for President Obama to grow into a Hitler-like leader who would snatch up civil liberties in the name of security.
Speaking in 2009 in an interview that was released by conservative radio show host and 9/11 truther Alex Jones last week, Paul drew parallels between the rise of Obama and that of Adolf Hitler.
Here's the crux of Paul's argument, from ThinkProgress:
"I think times of crisis is when we have to worry the most about things. You know, Rahm Emanuel, who's chief adviser to President Obama, said 'let no good crisis go past without allowing government to grow, these are our chances for government to grow stronger and for more security at the expense of liberty.' And it's happened before. When you have severe crisis, that's when sometimes strong leaders arise. You had the money destroyed in Germany in 1923 and out of that chaos came Hitler who promised that these awful people were the ones doing this to you and we need to round them up and put them in camps. And the liberties just went out the window. But people actually democratically voted in a Hitler. And I worry about that again in our country. If the money is destroyed in our country, could we get a time where a strong leader comes forward and says 'we just need security, I'll make you safe but just give me your liberty.'"
Paul's fear didn't subside there, as his interviewer can be heard asking him about "tattle" crews who were supposedly dispatched to report instances of people badmouthing President Obama.
"Do they have brown shirts on? Is there a youth patrol talking about hate speech?" Paul asked. "Criticism of a political figure and they're gonna call it hate speech? That's a dangerous sign that freedom of speech may be under attack next if we have to be careful about what we say."
This is far from the first time that Rand Paul has perpetuated fears of a Nazi-like takeover of the United States.
Dating back to 2007, Talking Points Memo pulled a compilation of at least six instances in which the then-Senate candidate had invoked Hitler on the campaign trail and in other appearances, not including a speech in which Paul claimed that economic worries could catalyze some sort of Obama-to-Hitler transformation.
Such hyperbolic and controversial rhetoric might not have seemed entirely out of the realm of possibility in the days following Rand Paul's primary victory, when he went on a media tour and effectively struck out, dominating the news cycle with statements criticizing the 1964 Civil Rights movement, defending BP from Obama's allegations of negligence, and then shortly thereafter becoming the third guest in 62 years to cancel on "Meet the Press." After his first foray into the public eye produced those results, subsequent reports found Rand Paul's history rife with similarly contentious points of view.
But, as ThinkProgress points out, this all took place before Paul's "contorting into an electable candidate," a reconfiguration that allowed him to insulate himself from tough questioning, deny past positions, and ultimately become Kentucky's next senator.