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Rand Paul talks debt, Obamacare in latest Mason City visit

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MASON CITY | In the shadow of the latest mass shooting in California, presidential candidate Rand Paul called for restrictions on refugees seeking to enter the United States. 

For the more than 50 people who packed a question-and-answer session at NIACC's Muse Norris Conference Center Friday evening, Paul took questions on refugee resettlement policy, ethanol subsidies and the Affordable Care Act.

On Thursday, Paul introduced a failed amendment during the Senate's passage of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act to hold visas issued to more than 30 countries and require an additional 30-day waiting period for refugees coming from other countries on the State Department's Visa Waiver program. 

Paul became part of a debate on social media this week as gun control advocates vented frustration with the prayerful sentiments offered by those opposed to congressional action on gun legislation.

The New York Daily News expressed the same idea on its front page Thursday with the blaring headline: "God Isn't Fixing This" coupled with images of tweets about prayers from GOP candidates Ted Cruz, Paul and Lindsey Graham and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Soon came a backlash from those arguing that gun control advocates were sneering at deeply felt prayers.

Paul tweeted that the newspaper's cover was "deplorable. Genuine thoughts and prayers are not political fodder."

But on Friday at NIACC Paul also acknowledged a difficulty in addressing future mass shootings, when perpetrators are American citizens, often act alone and have a limited prior criminal history.

"I don't know that there's an easy answer," he said after the session.

Some supporters who came out Friday night said their support for the candidate was based in part on their admiration for his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Molly Clark, 36, brought her two young children. She said she would most likely caucus for Paul in part based on her opposition to the Affordable Care Act's health insurance mandate. 

Currently paying for insurance under the law, she felt "forced into a health care plan I can't use," she said. 

Despite polling in single digits among 13 other Republican competitors, Paul said he was optimistic his campaign would do better than expected in the Feb. 1 caucus. 

"We're underrepresented in the polls," he said. 

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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