Sen. Rand Paul has been a consensus favorite at the Conservative Political Action Conference, dominating hallways with 'I Stand With Rand' posters and creating a horde of giddy young acolytes.
  • Paul, a Kentucky senator, got the Conservative Political Action Conference's loudest applause with a libertarian message
  • He railed against President Obama for allowing the National Security Agency to seize millions of Americans' phone records with a single warrant
  • Paul is seen as a major 2016 presidential contender
  • The CPAC even has heard from other crowd favorites Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum and Donald Trump
  • Paul sued the Obama administration, and the president personally, in February over the alleged NSA abuses
A sustained noise that could best be called a hoot and holler greeted Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at the mention of his name, before he took the stage at Friday's Conservative Political Action Conference and declared that cell phone records sought by government agencies were 'none of their damned business!'

By the time he launched into his blue streak against the National Security Agency and quoted Pink Floyd to criticize President Barack Obama, the overflow crowd of thousands sounded like Beyonce concertgoers who had stumbled into the wrong ballroom.

Tea party groups, likely to wield huge influence in 2016 GOP presidential politics, have connected mostly with Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz during the three-day event near Washington, D.C.
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The crowd simultaneously drank it in and shouted it out, making Paul the star of the Conservative Political Action Conference's second day and giving him - by far - the event's loudest applause.

'If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance' from the federal government, Paul warned in his biggest moment. 'I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damned business!'

One group of partisans shouted 'President Paul! President Paul!' as he spoke.
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Chris Christie stole Thursday's show with a comeback that shook the dust of 'Bridgegate' from his shoes. Rand Paul tapped into the libertarian undercurrent that has percolated throughout CPAC - and found its voice Friday afternoon.

'Imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty,' he said.

'You might think I'm talking about electing Republicans. I'm not: I'm talking about electing lovers of liberty.'

'It isn't good enough to pick the lesser of two evils,' he said, jabbing at both Democrats and establishment Republicans.
'I don't question President Obama's motives,' Paul told an overflow crowd, 'but history will record his timid defense of liberty'.
'Stand up and be heard,' he told the crowd during one stemwinder about anti-terror cases involving indefinite detention. 'We must defend our rights.'

Paul put his concerns about the NSA on front pages with a class-action lawsuit last month - on behalf, he said, of hundreds of millions of Americans who have telephones.

The federal government, the lawsuit alleges, has taken the idea of an individual search warrant and expanded it to apply to massive groups of citizens at the same time.

I believe this is a fundamental constitutional question: Can a single warrant be applied to millions of Americans?' he asked.

'No!' replied some in the audience.

'I took a stand,' he said. 'I sued the president.'

Jabbing the White House, Paul asked his audience, 'How will history remember Barack Obaam?'

Cult hero: Students Dragana Bozic (L) of New York City and Pi Praveen of Durham, NC, pose for a photograph with a life-size cutout photo of Sen. Rand Paul in the CPAC exhibit hall.
'I don't question President Obama's motives,' he said after the chuckles subsided, 'but history will record his timid defense of liberty.'

Obama has sought to expand the National Security Agency's authority to collect and keep broad swaths of telephone call metadata - information including callers and recipients, dates and times, and call durations.

Libertarians like Paul believe the government isn't entitled to indiscriminately snoop on citizens who are not already the targets of criminal investigations.

The Obama administration has taken the position that phone records don't belong to individual Americans, but to the telecommunications providers who own the phone networks - clearing the way for a single search warrant to cover millions at once.

'Mr. President,' he yelled in mid-crescendo at an imaginary Obama, 'we will not let you run roughshod over our rights. We will challenge you in the courts. We will battle you at the ballot box. Mr. President, we will not let you shred our Constitution!'

The CPAC event continues through Saturday. Former Alaska Governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will end the conference, and attendees will also hear from Dr. Ben Carson, an African-American surgeon who is the subject of a 'draft' effort for the 2016 presidential race.