Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 27, 2015. (H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 27, 2015. (H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Sounding very much like a presidential candidate, Rand Paul got another very friendly reception Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

As a packed ballroom cheered and chanted, the Kentucky senator called on “lovers of liberty” to “rise to the occasion” in order to defeat government overreach ranging from health care to counterterrorism surveillance.

“We must preserve and protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Paul said.

Saying a government that is “inept” at home cannot be successful overseas either, Paul also called for reducing American commitments abroad.

Supporters of Rand Paul work at a stand at the annual  Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 26, 2015. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images)

Supporters of Rand Paul work at a stand at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 26, 2015. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images)

The libertarian-leaning senator also proposed a general shrinkage of government and said he would soon call for “the largest tax cut in American history.”

At the same time, Paul said Republicans need to expand their party, in part by ending inequities in the criminal justice system that target African-Americans.

Paul’s proposals drew large cheers from a packed ballroom, some of whom began chanting “President Paul! President Paul.”

Paul has won the CPAC straw poll for two straight years, and he is favored by many to do so again when this year’s results are announced Saturday.

As he wrapped up his prepared remarks, Paul said “what drives us is the desire for freedom.”