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2016

Rand Paul: Off The Radar?

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IS THE MOST ELECTABLE “REPUBLICAN” TRAPPED BY HIS OWN PARTY?

|| By FITSNEWS || Of all the candidates seeking the 2016 presidential nomination, this website was most optimistic about the candidacy of U.S. Senator Rand Paul.

That’s probably not surprising seeing as we endorsed his father’s 2012 bid.  And have written in generally favorable terms about his career in the U.S. Senate.

Paul’s campaign has been a mixed bag in our opinion … doing pretty well on the fiscal front, status quo-ing on the liberty front and taking major steps in the wrong direction when it comes to foreign policy.

We haven’t written much about Paul in recent weeks, though … nor, apparently, has anybody.

In fact there’s actually a story in MSNBC (one of the farthest left-leaning outlets, admittedly) joking about whether Paul had gone into the federal witness protection program.

From Steve Benen‘s article …

I like tortoise-hare analogies as much as the next guy, but some basic truths are unavoidable: at this stage in the race, Paul’s support in the polls is underwhelming; his fundraising is unimpressive; his endorsement total is anemic; and his ability to generate attention isn’t working. Against this backdrop, the senator’s aides can say everything is going according to plan, but it’s a little hard to believe.

In case it’s not obvious, there’s plenty of time for any candidate, including Paul, to make significant gains between now and the early nominating contests. To simply assume the Kentucky Republican is finished is a mistake – it’s only July.

But Sam Youngman’s piece touched on an important point: “On issues such as gay marriage, the Confederate flag and the mind-blowing candidacy of Donald Trump, Paul is favoring caution over daring, seemingly all too aware that what he says to win independents could cost him with Republican primary voters.”

Ouch.

Benen is clearly urging Paul to make noise by running to the left on gay marriage and the flag – and clamoring for him to attack surprise GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

But doing those things would make him more of an establishment “Republican” not less of one, wouldn’t it?  And suggesting otherwise evidences a dimly lit notion of the forces fueling Trump’s rise in the polls … 

Last year we assessed Paul’s presidential prospects thusly …

Can a man serve two masters?  In the Biblical admonition against attempting such dual servitude, God and money were pitted against one another.  In Paul’s case, God and money (a.k.a. the GOP establishment) are on the same team – it’s those pesky people his father Ron Paul got all riled up who need to be tamed.

You know the people I’m talking about: The free market fiscal conservatives and social libertarians who look beyond the sound bites and rhetorical fluff and insist on substantive ideas – and ideological consistency in their implementation.

If Paul can successfully meld those people to the shrinking Republican base … his future is, as Tom Petty once crooned, “wide open.”  In fact his argument to that shrinking base – which is reticent to accept atheists, gays, blacks, etc. – is that they no longer have a choice in the matter.  At least not if they want to win another national election.

Can Paul pull it off though?  Is this Hegelian dialectic he’s envisioning really advancing toward some sort of electoral synthesis?  Or is his bid to shove free thinking capitalists into the same tent as corporate cronyists and sanctimonious moralizers doomed to fail?

It’s looking more like the latter.

Frankly, we’re amazed Paul went the GOP route.  He was – and potentially still is – the perfect independent candidate.  His record and policy views (when he’s not catering to the “Republican” primary electorate) fit better than any other presidential candidate in the fiscal conservative, social libertarian mold – which is where the electorate is going.

That’s why Paul has consistently polled better than his GOP rivals in general election  match-ups against presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But as long as he’s running in the GOP primary, Paul has a problem.

And while left-leaning reporters like Benen may have the issues matrix jumbled, his assessment of Paul’s basic predicament – “trying to appeal to Republican primary voters while reaching out to independents and retaining his own core followers, all the while both embracing and rejecting GOP orthodoxy” – is spot on.

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