Skip to comments.Rand Paulís Extreme GOP Makeover
Posted on 03/06/2014 10:35:44 AM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
Libertarian, conservative, neither? The only thing clear about the senator is that he has the potential to revolutionize the backward-looking Republican Party if he runs for president.When Rand Paul spoke to a packed ballroom of conservative activists at CPAC last year, he tagged the Obama administration as completely out of control. But he saved some of his harshest criticism for his own party, calling the GOP of old stale and moss covered, and insisting that the Republican Party has to change.
One year later, Paul is again speaking to CPAC, but this time hes more than the Stand with Rand senator who had just filibustered an Obama nominee for 13 hours to protest drone policy. He is now the de facto head of the libertarian wing of the party, still pushing the GOP to broaden its message and its membership, and serious enough about running for president that his allies are working to change the Kentucky law that would bar him from running for president and his Senate seat simultaneously in 2016.
If things go Rand Pauls way, national Republicans will follow the lead of Nathan Haney, the executive director of the Jefferson County, Kentucky Republican Party, who held an event last week for the local GOP to meet minority and low-income voters in Louisville, a city that has not had a Republican mayor in more than 50 years.
Were tired of losing, says Haney. Although Republicans dominate the federal offices in Kentucky, Democrats have held one or both houses of the state legislature for nearly a century, while just two Republicans have occupied the governors mansion since 1947. At some point you have to look in the mirror and say what is it that were doing wrong?
That bit of soul searching, rare for Republicans at the national level, has come to Jefferson County though the example of the states junior senator, Paul. What we have found in the time that hes been a senator is that Senator Paul has made it his goal to grow the party, nationwide and at the local level, Haney said, pointing to Pauls trips to inner-city Detroit, as well as historically black colleges across the country and poverty-ridden areas of Kentucky where Republicans rarely make inroads.
But beyond his itineraries, Paul has also used his three years of votes and visibility in the U.S. Senate, including a 13-hour filibuster, to blow up the checklist of exactly what it means to be a conservative Republican.
While Paul has been aggressively pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and almost rabidly small government, he has also staked out positions on privacy, intervention overseas, and mandatory drug sentencing that defy both his partys current instincts and its leaders in Washington.
At some point you have to look in the mirror and say what is it that were doing wrong?And while Paul has loudly championed the Tea Party movement since his 2010 campaign for Senate, he alone last week called on Tea Party darling Ted Nugent to apologize for a vile rant against President Obama.
The next day, Paul attended the Tea Partys fifth anniversary celebration in Washington to urge activists to hold strong against federal spending but also to make their message respectful of the president and to take it beyond their own political base. We have to reach out to more people, more than just those of us here, he told the activists.
The result of all of Pauls machinations is not only a senator who defies easy classification, but also a 2016 presidential contender, far more mainstream than his father, with the potential to reshape partisan coalitions and revolutionize the Republican Party.
In a Candidate Paul, voters would get an ACLU-aligned constitutional conservative who wants to rebrand his party and reach past traditional Republican voters while he does it. If the electorate two years from now is looking for a change from the Clinton years, the Bush years, and a GOP that seems to be looking backwards, Paul is about as new a concept as voters will find.
My party is a bit lost in the wilderness right now, said Patrick Griffin, a past adviser to numerous GOP presidential campaigns who is now a managing director for Purple Strategies. The firms latest Purple Poll (PDF) of likely New Hampshire primary voters that showed Mitt Romney winning a hypothetical primary in 2016. Second to Romney was Rand Paul.
New Hampshire takes personal freedom very seriously. Its on our license plates, Live free or die, Griffin said of Pauls potential appeal in New Hampshire. At the moment, Griffin predicts Paul will be one of the first flavors of the month for the run-up to the presidential election. Beyond that, Griffin said, What were seeing is establishment versus social conservatives. If he is able to straddle both sides of that, people start to say thats different, thats interesting.
So far, Paul is faring well in early polls, with a CBS national poll showing him leading the Republican feild along with Jeb Bush, and a PPP Iowa caucus poll with him polling second to Mike Huckabee, who won there in 2008. While Huckabee ran away with the social conservative votes in the PPP poll, Paul and Bush lead among moderates, 20 and 19 percent, respectively.
If South Carolina Republicans look for a more overtly religious conservative than Paul has ever been, a strong showing in Florida would become crucial.
It is the most-wide open I have ever seen it, said Alex Patton, a Florida-based GOP consultant, of early Republican inclinations. I think there is no one answer. The Republican tribes are pretty well fractured right now.
Patton described early support for all possible candidates essentially frozen until Bush decides on a potential run, and added that money for Floridas pricey media markets, along with momentum from earlier GOP primary wins, will be the ingredients for success in Florida.
As far as Rand Paul goes, there is little to no appetite for pure libertarianism here, Patton said. Its all about the economy right now. Voters arent going to want hear about anything other than jobs and the economy.
No matter the specific message, Marc Hetherington, a Vanderbilt University professor of political science who studies voter polarization, said that Republican results in the 2014 midterm elections could affect candidates like Paul in 2016 that are pushing to broaden the party past its traditional base.
He might have some appeal for expanding Republican constituencies in the general election, but that actually might hurt him in the primaries, Hetherington said. It seems to me the most obvious thing in the world that Republicans need to reach out to more minorities, but you can easily delude yourself into thinking otherwise if you just won the last election.
But for Haney, the self-described tired of losing Jefferson County Republican in Kentucky, the bigger-is-better message for the Republican Party is essential for the partys future and Rand Paul is delivering it.
With Senator Paul, you may not agree with him and a lot of the folks he talks to in Detroit and here in Louisville they dont all agree with him, Haney said. But at least they know where he stands and they know hes genuine about trying to help. And that right there, that transcends any divide.
I’m admittedly biased (but the user name warns you up front), but this is a promising development.
The writer doesn’t seem to know that it was the social conservatives who put Paul into office, over the Clinton, and Mitt Romney supporting, Trey Grayson.
“Paul leads Grayson among pro-lifers by a 50%-32% margin. Grayson leads Paul among pro-abortion Republicans by a 42%-27% margin.
Conservatives, Christians, social conservatives, and the statewide Kentucky voting population support Rand Paul.
Conservatives favor Paul by 51 percent to 29 percent with 16 percent undecided. Those who attend religious services regularly or occasionally favor Paul by double-digit margins. Gun owners back Paul 48 percent to 22 percent with 22 percent undecided.
Rand Paul leads by double digits among men and women, among conservatives, pro-life voters, gun owners.
Grayson leads today only among the 1 in 5 Republican primary voters who say they are pro-choice.”
After listening to Cruz’s CPAC speech, I’d give him about 95% on the issues. Pretty hard to beat. But I’d take either versus the Hildebeast.
Rand Paul makes sense. I am a big supporter of his. He is the statesman we need for president.
Immigration is a complicated issue. No one will be completely happy with any immigration bill.
To take a stand that all illegals must be sent back and/or punished, just for being here, is ridiculous on its face. This CAN’T happen and WON’T happen. NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!
Provisions must be made for law abiding (other than just crossing the border) hard working illegals. A “path” to legal status will be an incentive not a negative. A long waiting period and/or fines is okay with me.
Securing the border is a must.
I would rather see amnesty under a Dim than any Republican. Any Republican.
It's my red line and the most important issue when it comes to my vote and my money.
That position could be argued, but I'll save my...and your...breath on the matter.
I'll simply state than any Republican that wants my vote will not grant permanent residency to illegals in any form. Ever.
“Paul’s major and unforgivable flaw is Amnesty:”
Agreed! Out of all other possible flaws, amnesty will eliminate the Pubes/Conservative party forever. Give no quarter on amnesty.
Yeh Cruz was hugh and series today. I was ready to vote him President right now. But I hope Rand Paul runs as well. I don’t his current stance on amnesty but he works tirelessly to roll back the police state and restore our constittional freedoms. That is very important.
I’m OK with Paul or Cruz.
That said, I want to hear the candidates address things that can be done with a stroke of a pen (e.g. cutting off the flood of H1B's that undercut wages and employment opportunities for educated citizens).