In Kentucky, Rand Paul Demonstrates the Art of the Sale

The younger Paul is on the rise and on message.

  • Share
  • Read Later
T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty Images

Senator Rand Paul talks with reporters as Senate Republicans and Democrats head to their weekly policy luncheon on March 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Lexington, Kentucky

In some ways you can look at Rand Paul and see his dad. The Kentucky Senator gives similarly genre-bending stump speeches that bounce from Austrian economics to the problem with foreign aid, from the perils of government to the pleasures of unfettered capitalism. But if you listen closely there are important differences between the two men, even though the policies are largely the same.

Ron Paul had a mystifying knack for whipping college-age audiences into a frenzy with dry observations about, say, raw milk or Austrian economics. He won a fervent following partly because he didn’t much care about winning anything. His son has a different talent. In a few short years in Washington, Rand — who came of age on the libertarian fringe and ran under the Tea Party banner — has become a skillful political salesman, with a feel for marketing his views to match his audience.

The genteel crowd gathered in a Lexington hotel Wednesday to hear Rand Paul address the Women Republicans of Central Kentucky was the type of crowd likely to blanch at his father’s views on cutting foreign aid, shrinking America’s military footprint or legalizing marijuana. But for Rand, they offered a warm welcome. Fresh off a month that included his electrifying filibuster challenging President Obama’s targeted killing policies, a straw poll victory at this month’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and his recent speech unexpecedtly urging work permits and legal status for immigrants, Paul was greeted like a conquering hero. “That historic filibuster encouraged everyone that there’s still a chance to save America,” gushed Paul’s introducer.

Paul’s speech was a blend of small-government dogma, practical truth-telling (Obamacare is here indefinitely) and pure red meat: The terrorist assault in Benghazi, he said, exposed Hillary Clinton’s “errors in leadership that really should preclude her from ever holding high office again.” But it was mainly notable for the skillful way he softened his more controversial views for an audience who members have probably never heard of Guy Fawkes Day .

Like his father, Paul opposes foreign aid, a position that puts him at odds with the vast majority of his party. “I think the foreign aid doesn’t work,” he told the crowd. Eyebrows raised. But then Paul asked why the U.S. should send money to countries that burn American flags, and why we should allocate money for bridges in Egypt or Pakistan when bridges are crumbling stateside. Heads nodded; a woman in pearls murmured softly, “Amen.” Later, a disabled Vietnam veteran expressed concerns about cutting the Pentagon budget, a measure Paul favors. “To take care of veterans who come home from war, you’ve going to have to cut waste at the Pentagon and audit the Pentagon,” he said. That should include shuttering military bases, he said. “I’m not saying don’t have any,” he hastened, adding that maintaining a strong national defense was among the signal responsibilities of government. “I’m just saying maybe not 900. I mean, I’d rather have one at Fort Campbell and Fort Knox” — Kentucky installations that offer jobs in his state — “than one in Timbuktu.”

Ron Paul might have answered this question with a screed about U.S. imperialism. Rand’s lighter touch goes a long way. “Rand is more political” than his father, says an ally of both Pauls. “There were years when Ron spoke at CPAC and started in on foreign policy, and you could see the shades go down. Rand has an ability to speak that same audience and say the same thing, but do it in a way that they’ll listen.”

“When there are certain positions he has that aren’t as popular,” explains Trey Grayson, Paul’s former Senate primary opponent and now the Director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics, “he’s adept at marketing it to sound less objectionable.”

It’s a talent that has lifted Paul’s status in the Senate, and it is playing equally well back home. To cement his base of support within a Republican Party that still has misgivings about libertarian doctrine, Paul must continue to win over the kind of conservatives who shunned his father as fringey. People like Shirley Wiseman, a real-estate developer who worked as assistant secretary for housing in the Reagan Administration. “I am a centralist Republican conservative,” she says. “I am not a Tea Partyer.” Wiseman was a strong supporter of Mitt Romney. She thought Ron Paul was “too far right.” But while she concedes that Ron and Rand Paul’s beliefs are similar, “I know what good conservatives are in Washington,” she says. “Rand Paul is one of those people.”

300 comments
drudown
drudown

Just this: if, as the GOP incorrigibly insists, that tax cuts are the magic elixir for job growth/raising revenue/economic growth...then the W era would have led to these purported results. To the contrary, major tax cuts result in a weaker dollar, less revenue for necessary services and infrastructure (job creation) and stagnated growth. 

Rand Paul's libertarianism is a pretext for Big Business to avert regulatory scrutiny, nothing more. 

As members of Congress and K Street come in and out of a revolving door. 

Where, where are the leaders willing to implement fiscal prudence?

"Do every act of your life as if it were your last." - Marcus Aurelius

fitty_three
fitty_three

Scratch these insane Paulites and you find....

....teabaggers!

Think_again
Think_again

Snake oil always sells well. And there is nothing "electrifying" about a filibuster.

libertarianlwyr
libertarianlwyr

@DanielLarison Ya think? It might have something to do with the fact Rand is a lot more conservative and a lot less libertarian than his Dad

drudown
drudown

Dear Rand Paul:


Given your self-professed Libertarian views, perhaps you would like to share whether a greater threat to the People of the United States is (a) President Obama murdering civilians in a SF cafe or (b) Congress refusing to enjoin the proposed sale of Drones to the UAE? Tell me, what is going to stop the UAE from handing over the Drones purchased from the US firm to terrorist organizations? Isn't it true some of the 9/11 attackers came through the UAE? 


People in the Nation need to "wake up" and see that this "Tea Party" charade is a pretext for Foreign Influences to corrupt our political process under the auspices of "partisan politics." The fact nobody in the GOP (or Congress) has the common sense to tell Rand to stop undermining US military diplomacy tends to prove that the GOP has no heart, no guts and no loyalty to the People at all. 


What a sad day for our soldiers serving abroad...to see some corrupt, ignorant GOP flunky purport to undermine our own Commander in Chief's authority. 


Can someone in the Media start to investigate whether or not Rand Paul has received donations from Foreign Influences (via Campaign Contributions from the Middle East)? He has no loyalty to America.


"Truth fears no trial." - Thomas Fuller, MD

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Rand Paul has all the craziness of his dad but none of his integrity. What else needs to be said?

fitty_three
fitty_three

Finally, in words a paulite can understand, regardless of their obfuscation and attempts to split hairs:

{NO SALE}

drudown
drudown

Ah, Rand- your incorrigible refusal to let the Benghazi red herring go is about as telling as your inability to coherently identify what relevance it has to begin with. Let us assume, arguendo, that the Americans were murdered as a form of political speech. What possible utility or relevance is the "timing" of when the "talking points" about the attendant circumstances were dispensed, particularly given the potential diplomatic consequences if such killings were at the direction or were sanctioned by a particular Arab regime? Given that there was no way to recreate what actually happened in the court of PUBLIC OPINION for such self-evident reasons, ANY attempt to divine motive or purpose of the Benghazi killings by ANY elected official (i.e., whether President Obama, S.O.S. Clinton, Rep. Boehner or Sen. McCain, et al.) is not only pure conjecture, but it is exceedingly shortsighted to presuppose that the United States' strategic interests best served by being completely forthright when the State Department was completing its due diligence as to what transpired; perhaps being vague and/or deliberately misleading in "talking points" was necessary and proper. Like the underlying motive of the killings, it calls for speculation and, by definition, the GOP assumes material facts not in evidence. Facts that will likely never be ascertained. 

Reduced to its essence, whether the Americans were killed as a form of political speech by actual, high level terrorists...or they were murdered for the US dollars in their wallet...does not necessarily have any deep meaning for the People of the United States, nor is this "information" a matter of National Security per se. But assuming for the sake of argument that it was deemed to be, in fact, a matter of National Security- the notion that the Obama Administration and/or (then) Secretary of State Clinton should be chastised or criticized for not "fully disclosing" every fact to the public while ascertaining all the pertinent facts is therefore asinine. It is prudent diplomacy and is in no way indicative of some vague and useless "conspiracy" that has sadly become the Benghazi red herring. Enough already. Give it a rest and let the State Department do its job without Congress using the loss of precious American lives as a pretext for partisan politics. As with unfounded criticism of drone use, such public scrutiny of US policy undermines our authority in the eyes of those we purportedly seek to "win over." Of course, in the alternative, the more the GOP draws attention to what very well were random acts of violence, the more incentive Al Qaeda has to kill Americans abroad as political speech. 
In short, the GOP knows the objective for the United States in the Middle East but obstructs the way with such public critique; what they call the way is mere wavering.
"Diplomacy: the art of restraining power." - Kissinger

aztecian
aztecian

@53_3 lets see this racist sell his snake oil outside of the banjo states!

reallife
reallife

"Snake oil always sells well."

no kidding! look who's in the white house!

JoelPaull
JoelPaull

@libertarianlwyr @DanielLarison 

No, he is more"republican" (the brand) vs. conservative (an adjective).  As we have heard quoted from Reagan a lot these past few weeks, that libertarianism is the heart of conservatism.

afiresale
afiresale

And, for your information, I support any war that Rand Paul signs onto.  I actually trust him to make the decision!  You do notice he supported sanctions on Iran recently, yes?

afiresale
afiresale

@drudown  

You are shameless!  You people seek to trample the very Bill of Rights that those soldiers are losing life and limb for.  You're disgusting! 

Omg, terrorists will buy the drones if we don't?  They must be pretty cheap!  How about we just enact some drone control legislation instead, right!? 

Only in America, are people able to be convinced that NOT going to pre-emptive war is dangerous.

ArmandWinter
ArmandWinter

@drudown When has Obama murdered civilians in a SF cafe... more BS.

 How about if you join the Mormons and move to Utah and A-hole like you would fit right in.

 

reallife
reallife

what? you forgot the "race card"?.... you guys are losing your touch  

 LOL

afiresale
afiresale

@ArmandWinter Oh, look...more sensationalized opinion blogs.  Don't look for much in the way of links to actual facts.  Just hateful rhetoric, making more mountains out of molehills. 

I can tell by the way the links to other articles about Rand Paul have headlines which completely misrepresent what he actually said.  I know because I actually watched those speaking engagements.  They don't expect that you will, after reading their article.  They will feed you a soundbyte, or nothing at all.

afiresale
afiresale

@53_3  

Rand Paul, the next President of the United States!  /thunderous applause

fitty_three
fitty_three

@drudown  

I want to thank you for clarifying some of my complaints highlighting some of the issues that the Paulites would prefer not to be broached.

Libertarianism is specifically and exactly social Darwinist in nature.  No less and no more.

Then, of course, is the overpermissive view of the failures of commercial interests, and of their stand on Civil Rights.

They seem to, much like Marxism, believe in a "Utopia" that will only be brought about by implementing their tenets, and more than a few broken eggs.

Thanks!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@reallife Shouldn't you be man enough to honor your bet and leave? Or do you just like your party never honor any of your promises?

Think_again
Think_again

@reallife

The winner.

Meanwhile, Rand excels at demagoguing a losing philosophy, and an agenda that will do nothing to improve the economy or quality of life for the majority of Americans.

drudown
drudown

@JoelPaull @DanielLarison

I think it is a bunch of bull #$%&, i.e., this purported distinction between the republicans and libertarians or conservatives for that matter. Given that your ilk in Congress have to verily "swear an oath" of loyalty to a lobbyist (Grover Norquist) to ensure "lock step" voting on the "no new revenue" (er, taxes) policy, why even intimate there is the slightest semblance of original thought- much less factions of any consequence- in your political party? There's one party with the same agenda. Cut taxes, deregulate major industries and outsource our industrial base to exploit cheap, union-less labor abroad. 

Ah, me- I can almost hear Rubio's regurgitated GOP talking points about "freedom" and "trickle down economics"...yawn.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@afiresale 

I think your problem is that you have an undying faith in this idiot and Libertarianism feel that others who don't are heretics. 

Witless the fact that you believe that discrimination doesn't exist in Teh Fwee Market!

Clobberhead.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@afiresale Yes because Rand Paul has such a wealth of knowledge on Geo Politics and History. Can you really be this naive?

ArmandWinter
ArmandWinter

@afiresale @drudown Both Rand Paul and Mike Lee, not to mention Utard Jason Chaffetz voted against funding embassy security 7 times.

ArmandWinter
ArmandWinter

@afiresale @ArmandWinter What's the matter, a police report isn't good enough for you.... You're another idiot that needs to join the Mormons and move to Utah.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@afiresale @ArmandWinter Feed you a sound byte? My my how that sounds like the Tea Party strategy in a nutshell. How does it feel to be the brainchild and sponsor of two of the biggest corporate criminals of our time?

miskaki
miskaki

@afiresale @53_3 

Sweetie have you been in someone's pot stash? The man is a nut job just like daddy.

notsacredh
notsacredh

I had a better chance of getting that pope job than Rand has of being President. And YES, not being named Pope hurt. Bad.

afiresale
afiresale

Don't even try the Civil Rights rhetoric.  You know full well that business only cares about one color:  Green.  Welcome to the 21st century.  

Stop acting like Paul wanting to dial back the anti-private property language (and the precedent it sets)has anything to do with racism.

afiresale
afiresale

@53_3 @drudown  

It's only social darwinism when you big government types keep letting them pick winners and losers instead of letting the people and the free market take it's course.  You are going in circles.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@reallife Speaking of kettles, didn't you promise to never post again if Mittens lost the election.

reallife
reallife

"your problem is that you have an undying faith in this idiot"

  pot... kettle  -   kettle.... pot

LOL

oaebcr
oaebcr

@drudown

You are too foolishto be fooled.  What is so void ab initio about legalzing people that are here legally?

drudown
drudown

@afiresale

I know the GOP long game. You can fool the masses, but not me. 

afiresale
afiresale

@drudown @afiresale  

Wat?  Uh, They voted Obama, fool.  Rand wants to end their ability to vote by tracking them.  You really are smacked, aren't you?

drudown
drudown

@afiresale

Rand "Big Business" Paul wants to dilute the People's voting rights so that the special interest GOP puppeteer can manipulate the 11,000,000-20,000,000+ "new" voters into acquiescing to agendas against our own interests. Give me a break. What, the GOP holds up democratic judicial nominees under the auspices that he/she does not follow a "strict construction" of the laws but, here, inexplicably, our GOP leaders are ready, willing and able to become "activist legislators" are magically bestow citizenship to 11,000,000-20,000,000+ CITIZENS OF OTHER SOVEREIGNS?

These people here illegally cannot be magically transmuted into citizens because it creates an easier, more malleable voting bloc. It is Unconstitutional on its face and void ab initio.

afiresale
afiresale

@drudown@afiresale 

You must be thinking of Obama.  

I did answer and I am tiring of repeating myself.  NO, he does not want to grant "citizenship."  They do not get entitlements.  They get to work legally..and pay their way.  The E.R. would treat them but they get billed. 

He is trying to stop undocumented immigrants from getting welfare money.

Here, I see you need pictures. 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLVWwE1P5pg

drudown
drudown

@afiresale

You aren't answering the threshold inquiries: (1) isn't it true Rand supports granting citizenship to people here illegally [the answer is YES]; (2) isn't it true that granting them citizenship materially INCREASES the number of entitlements [the answer is YES].

Parse Rand's words all you like, but he doesn't want to RAISE the money required to pay for the social net they (or any citizen) requires and this constitutes deceit. So spare me the imputed deception. 

afiresale
afiresale

@drudown @afiresale

So you will continue to tell lies about the man?  He said work visas to track them and ensure they are not committing fraud and, specifically, to make sure they aren't illegally obtaining welfare.  Let them work and pay their way, is what he said.

drudown
drudown

@afiresale @drudown 

You can parse words all you like. It is amnesty for citizens that came here illegally and providing citizenship is going to cost the US taxpayers dearly over time- to say nothing of having our voting power diluted for no reason. "But they mow our lawns and help raise our children!" - McCain. So stipulated. But the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment works and is.

afiresale
afiresale

@drudown @afiresale  

He didn't say citizenship, he said work visas.  This, coupled with actually enforcing our borders so that we don't let the problem grow. 

drudown
drudown

@afiresale 

Tell me, isn't it disingenuous for Rand Paul to prate on and on about how "entitlements are ruining our Country" out of one side of his mouth and then, inexplicably, propose the Congress magically bestow citizenship to 20,000,000 CITIZENS OF OTHER SOVEREIGNS?

I just want to know why the conflicting positions. If you are going to give foreign nationals a "path to citizenship", lay out a "path to pay for it."


oaebcr
oaebcr

@mantisdragon91

I'm pretty sure he inherited his mother's curly hair.  Likening Paul's stances on issues to Mitt Romney's is definetly mindles, biased typing.

drudown
drudown

@afiresale @drudown @53_3 

If memory serves, the GOP's last "education initiative" withheld funds from the schools that arguably need help the most. Great logic!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@afiresale @drudown @53_3 Rand Paul has whatever you want him to have at any given time and yet his story like Mitts changes like the wind. He is a weather vane with a bad perm.

afiresale
afiresale

@drudown @afiresale @53_3  

Rand Paul does support cutting gov't waste and foreign aid and using the amount that he cuts to fund infrastructure. He has legislation drafted. 

Schools?  We shrank class sizes and threw how much money at it?  It didn't help.  You want to throw more?  Why are other nations outdoing us in education with far less money being spent?  Get...a...clue. 

He does have measures to help education, nevertheless. 

drudown
drudown

@afiresale @drudown @53_3 

Actually, you just don't want to take ownership of the GOP policies. Instead of saying, "yes, I don't think the People should raise revenue to pay for new schools, new infrastructure and better Health Care"...you disseminate falsehoods, e.g., "cutting taxes raises revenue" or "cutting spending will balance the budget." Neither are true. 

afiresale
afiresale

@mantisdragon91 @afiresale @53_3 @drudown  

Uh, the crisis began in Housing and Banking.  Democrats Dodd/Frank were running both of those.  

Keep chanting that Clinton caused the economic boom that was actually caused by the internet.  He won't claim it, but he will sure smile over you people who keep saying it about him.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@afiresale @53_3 @drudown News flash. Reagan and his trickle down vodoo has picked losers and winners in this country for 30 years. Guess what 98% of the country lost.

drudown
drudown

@afiresale @53_3

From whence comes this "big government" groupthink? If Rand and the GOP spent as much time on ensuring that VA benefits were duly distributed as it did trying to obstruct Obamacare, the US would be a better place.