The Son Also Rises

Rand Paul’s surprisingly successful campaign for Senate

The Rally for the Republicans at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center isn’t your standard rubber-chicken campaign event. Frank Simon, a Louisville religious-right leader known for his strong opposition to gay marriage, leads the crowd of 800 in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rev. Jerry Stephenson, a conservative black pastor, delivers the invocation, asking “Father God” to “help us start a revolution.” Then the Grammy-nominated rock and reggae singer Aimee Allen, decked out in tattoos, patterned stockings, and high-top sneakers, performs a three-song set, culminating in an anthem helped along by the candidate’s sons on acoustic guitars: “We don’t want no war no more / Bring our boys home to our shore.”

This improbable opening is topped off by the Rev. Jeff Fugate, the right-wing pastor of Clays Mill Road Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. Unlike the previous act, Fugate doesn’t sing about the PATRIOT Act or inciting a riot. Instead he gives a Falwellesque speech about restoring American values.

Nearly an hour later, the audience, which paid $25 a head, is treated to the main event: Rand Paul, a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, making his first joint appearance with his famous father, Ron Paul, the libertarian presidential candidate and 11-term GOP congressman from Texas.

“It was a little weird,” Rand Paul’s campaign manager, David Adams, admits afterward. “But it also shows what’s great about our movement. We are building a big tent that appeals to everyone from the civil libertarians to the Christian right.” That tent covers a vast army of hippies, Birchers, don’t-tread-on-me libertarians, Tea Party activists, conservatives clinging to either Bibles or guns, and blue blazer–wearing GOP regulars. Rand Paul has managed to tap into his father’s national following of libertarians and anti-war advocates without (so far) alienating traditional Republicans in the Blue Grass State.

This highly unusual combination may make Rand Paul the most serious libertarian-leaning candidate for U.S. Senate in recent history. Self-styled “Ron Paul Republicans” have run for office before. A few of them—congressional candidates B.J. Lawson in North Carolina and Amit Singh in Virginia, for example—showed genuine promise in 2008 but were burdened by campaigning in deeply Democratic districts the same year that Barack Obama swept into the White House. Rand Paul is running in a political climate that has soured on Democrats, in a state where Obama was never popular to begin with. His familial relationship with the elder Paul isn’t the only thing that makes him stand out from the pack of Ron Paul Republicans. Rand Paul might actually win.

‘I Have to Win This Race on My Own’

When the increasingly erratic Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) announced his retirement last July, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson was supposed to be the GOP nominee. Grayson had already set up an exploratory committee, apparently with Bunning’s blessing. He was the first choice of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Republican leaders in Washington, D.C., and Kentucky preferred him even to Bunning, a former professional baseball star who had become cantankerous and unpredictable toward the end of his second term.

So when Bunning took himself out of the running—complaining bitterly that his fellow Republicans did “everything in their power to dry up my fund raising”—Grayson seemed like the natural front-runner. A Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll taken in late August and early September of 2009 showed him leading upstart Rand Paul by 15 percentage points. But by December, Public Policy Polling showed Paul drubbing Grayson by 19 points, 44 percent to 25 percent.

If Paul wins the primary, he will, as a Republican, be at least the slight favorite in the November election. He has outpolled both leading Democrat contenders in every public survey taken since December. In February, a Rasmussen poll showed Paul ahead of Attorney General Jack Conway by eight points—twice Grayson’s margin in a survey taken at the same time—and leading Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo by 11 points.

Paul also has been winning the money race, although that contest is closer. His grassroots-organized Internet “money bombs,” patterned after a technique his father’s followers used to great effect in the presidential race, have produced hundreds of thousands of dollars in single-day periods. Paul has raised nearly $1.9 million since last year, edging out Grayson’s haul of more than $1.7 million.

Grayson’s supporters—who include much of the state’s GOP hierarchy, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—are clearly irritated by this turn of events. After the Pauls’ first father-and-son rally, Grayson campaign manager Nate Hodson issued a statement to the press blasting them both. “Maybe Ron Paul’s skills as a career politician will help his son Rand explain to Kentuckians how closing Guantanamo and releasing the prisoners will make us safer and how a pro-choice marijuana advocate will best represent Kentucky Republicans as their Senate nominee,” the statement read. “The truth is that Ron and Rand Paul are not conservatives on national security and social issues and are completely out of touch with Kentucky.”

The tone is very different within the Paul camp. “Dr. Paul’s office,” a sweet-sounding Southern lady answers the phone. When I’m transferred to the candidate, he tells me the biggest challenge his campaign faces is “not being too optimistic, because things really could not be going better.” He mentions the independent poll showing him with a 19-point lead among Republican primary voters. “Our internal polling has me ahead, but not by quite that much,” Paul says. “Maybe they’ll run a bunch of ads with someone narrating in a sinister voice to try and beat me in the last couple of weeks.”

The younger Paul looks and sounds a lot like his father. The similarities don’t end there. They both graduated from Duke Medical School—Ron Paul is an obstetrician, Rand Paul an ophthalmologist—and are reverentially referred to by their supporters as “Dr. Paul.” Paul followed in his father’s footsteps a second time by becoming involved in politics. He gave his first public speech in 1984, before a crowd of 300. The venue was a debate with Texas Rep. Phil Gramm, who was running against his father for the Republican nomination for Senate. When the elder Paul had to go back to Washington for House votes, he let his son stand in for him at such forums. Rand Paul did well enough in the debates, but Gramm easily won the primary. In 2008 Paul traveled with his father’s presidential campaign and spoke on his behalf in nearly a dozen states.

“I wouldn’t be where I am right now without my dad,” Paul acknowledges. “It would be hard for me to make my first campaign a statewide race against an experienced politician if it weren’t for the fact that my dad is now famous. But at the same time, I have to win this race on my own. He can’t do it for me.”

‘I Am 1,000,000 Percent on Board With Rand Paul’

Like his father, Rand Paul is a culturally conservative family man. He married Kelley Ashby 19 years ago, and they settled down in Bowling Green in 1993. Rand and Kelley now have three children, ranging in age from 10 to 16. His campaign bumper stickers and website are modeled after his father’s from the 2008 presidential primaries. And the Pauls are running on similar—but not identical—platforms.

Like his dad, Rand Paul emphasizes his opposition to federal bailouts of private industry, particularly the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). It’s an issue that puts him on the side of many rank-and-file Republicans while showcasing his independence from a party leadership that ultimately acquiesced to the Wall Street giveaway. “It divided a lot of Republicans,” Paul says. “The mainstream went along with whatever the party told them to do.”

When it comes to the Federal Reserve, Paul is also a chip off the old block. He supports his father’s “audit the Fed” bill, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, decrying the “lack of transparency in our monetary system.” Paul echoes his father’s complaint that the Federal Reserve “creates money out of thin air,” including “trillions of dollars in debt.” “We can’t sustain that,” he says. “We’re going broke.” He similarly adheres to the Austrian school’s theory of the business cycle, which holds that the central bank artificially lowers interest rates and inflates the money supply, devaluing the currency, triggering risky investments, and creating speculative bubbles.

To get more bang for his fiat currency, Rand Paul has a second tab on his campaign website dedicated to monetary policy under the heading of “inflation.” “The Federal Government is running back-breaking budget deficits, amassing crippling debt, and borrowing trillions of dollars from the Chinese to finance its extravagance,” the site warns. “Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve, an unelected group of private bankers, is printing trillions of dollars to bail out private industry, purchase government debt, and flood the market with cheap credit.”

Although these issues are identified with Ron Paul, they are gaining traction within the mainstream of his party (and even with some Democrats). Every Republican in the House has signed onto the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. With Democrats now in power, the GOP increasingly rails against deficits and the national debt. Even citing the Constitution and the doctrine of enumerated powers are once again in fashion. In Virginia last February, a group of mostly Bush-friendly conservative movement leaders endorsed a “Mount Vernon Statement” that aims to link the right under the rubric of constitutionally limited government.

On some social issues, Rand Paul—again like his father—is closer to conservatives than most libertarians. He believes the government should recognize marriage as a union between a man and a woman. He says human life begins at conception, and he therefore opposes legal abortion and describes himself as “100 percent pro-life.” In both cases, Paul’s preference is to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over these issues and return them to the states, a position too conservative for some and too libertarian for others.

What set Ron Paul apart from most Republicans, though, was his passionate opposition to the Iraq war and to the GOP’s interventionist foreign policy. Here Rand Paul is careful to tailor his arguments in ways that appeal to more conventional conservatives. The only section of his campaign website that deals at length with the war appears under the heading “National Defense.”

“Defending our Country is the most important function of the federal government,” Paul says on his website. “When we are threatened, it is the obligation of our representatives to unleash the full arsenal of power that is granted by and derived from free men and women.” Paul argues that only Congress has the constitutional authority to declare war but also says that there are times when the president “can and should make military responses without Congressional authority.”

“As a member of Congress,” the statement continues, “Dr. Rand Paul would have demanded and voted in the affirmative for a declaration of war with Afghanistan. He would have demanded and voted against a declaration of war with Iraq.” In the end, that is not much different from his father’s voting record: The elder Paul voted for the resolution that authorized the initial invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and against the authorization of force against Iraq, while unsuccessfully insisting that Congress vote on formal declarations of war against both countries. But the emphasis is clearly different.

The Rand Paul campaign also uses a somewhat different tone than Ron Paul’s on military spending: “In Rand’s proposed budget, defense spending would represent a larger percentage of the total budget than it does today, while military spending on unnecessary programs and unconstitutional operations would be eliminated.” Says Rand Paul campaign manager David Adams: “What people are seeing is that despite what our opponent says, Rand is actually very strong on national defense. He believes in doing what it takes to keep the American people safe and secure.”

This careful messaging has helped Rand win the mainstream conservative support that eluded his father’s Republican presidential campaign. The biggest example is the endorsement of former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who said she was “proud to support great grassroots candidates like Dr. Paul.” In an oblique reference to Paul’s deviations from the Republican line on foreign policy and civil liberties, Palin continued, “While there are issues we disagree on, he and I are both in agreement that it’s time to shake up the status quo in Washington and stand up for common sense ideas.” Trey Grayson’s campaign responded by initially questioning the authenticity of Palin’s endorsement.

Palin isn’t the only prominent Republican to pick Paul over Grayson. The publisher, flat-tax maven, and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes is a Paul backer. So is former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, whose organization FreedomWorks lists Paul as one of the five most important candidates to support in 2010. Concerned Women for America has endorsed Paul, helping to allay concerns about his social conservatism. Gun Owners of America weighed in on Paul’s behalf as well, though there were never any questions about his opposition to gun control. 

Paul is even starting to be mentioned alongside other conservative movement–approved candidates in the Republican primaries: Marco Rubio in Florida, Ovide Lamontagne in New Hampshire, and Chuck DeVore in California. Such company has helped him appeal to Republicans who wanted to read his father out of the party in 2008, such as Erick Erickson of the activist conservative blog RedState.

During the presidential primaries, RedState users with accounts less than six months old were banned from posting about Ron Paul. “Hey, we’re sure some of Ron Paul’s supporters really are Republicans,” Erickson and Leon Wolf wrote at the time. But this year, things are different. “Fiorina, Ayotte, and Grayson become establishment candidates,” Erickson argued in a post. “That means they must all three be beaten.” Even if that means supporting Rand Paul? “I am 1,000,000 percent on board with Rand Paul.”

‘A $2 Trillion Deficit—Now That’s Extreme’

So far Paul is doing what he needs to do to win the primary: raising money from his father’s ardent libertarian backers nationwide while winning over mainstream conservative Republicans in Kentucky. The libertarian Republican activist Eric Dondero, a disgruntled former staffer of the elder Paul who contemplated a primary challenge against him, praises Rand Paul as a “pro-defense libertarian.” At the same time, dovish Ludwig von Mises Institute President Lew Rockwell is politely supportive—though not effusive—on his website, despite regarding much of the Republican primary electorate to which Rand must appeal as “red-state fascists.”

“It’s just a constellation of positive things all going on at once,” says Paul. The first is that the emphasis has been shifted from foreign policy, where Paulite views are at odds with those of the GOP rank and file, to domestic affairs, where Paul can run as a Republican who really means what he says. The Tea Party movement has oriented conservative activism toward protesting the size and cost of government. “People sometimes say to me, ‘Aren’t your views a little extreme?’ ” Paul recounts. “I say to them that I don’t think a balanced budget is extreme. I think a $2 trillion deficit, now that’s extreme.”

Not everyone is happy, however. Websites like Too Kooky for Kentucky continue to attack Paul as a pot-smoking, terrorist-sympathizing, abortion-supporting, radical libertarian. Nor are all national conservative commentators convinced that Rand Paul is one of them. The right-wing columnist Debbie Schlussel, who excoriated “the anti-war, anti-Gitmo, pan-terrorist, 9/11 conspiracy theory, pro-Iran, and anti-American views of the Paul son,” says the candidate is “equally nutty” as his father.

The younger Paul is clearly aware of the damage such attacks can do, especially since he is running in a closed Republican primary. So he has taken steps to avoid some of the controversies that enmeshed his father. Rand Paul energetically distances himself from racists, anti-Semites, and 9/11 truthers. When former campaign coordinator Chris Hightower was linked to a MySpace page that contained racist remarks and alleged that America had provoked the 9/11 attacks, he was promptly sacked. His father’s presidential campaign, by contrast, never held anyone accountable for some bigoted statements that appeared two decades ago in one of his newsletters, The Ron Paul Survival Report

Rand Paul also steps carefully when discussing blowback from American military intervention. He and his father were interviewed jointly by a Kentucky television station before the Rally for the Republicans, and both were asked about whether America was to blame for 9/11. The elder Paul gave the kind of meandering answer that would have Rudy Giuliani straining at the leash to pounce, emphasizing that “policies have consequences, ideas have consequences.” 

Rand Paul framed his response much differently. “What I would say is, the most important thing to say from the beginning is that if someone murders your family, it is their fault,” the son said. “We say these people attacked us, it is their fault.…We are not to blame for people attacking us.” He then proceeded to make some of the same points his father made.

Some of these stylistic differences irk libertarians who prefer Ron Paul’s less conciliatory approach. One of Rand Paul’s staffers, Christie Gillespie, resigned from the campaign after being ordered to refrain from criticizing Mitch McConnell and other Republicans. But it is the substantive differences between the Pauls that tend to bother libertarians more.

Unlike his father, Rand opposes civilian trials for terror detainees. He would “ultimately” close Gitmo, but not until it is determined what will be done with the prisoners, who he does not want sent to the United States. In their joint interview, when the elder Paul expressed his opposition to trying suspected terrorists before military tribunals, Rand quipped, “Now my father has only been here for 20 minutes, and you’re already making me disagree with him. We haven’t even had a chance to say hello.” Ron Paul responded, “I think Rand just proved that he’s his own man and can think for himself.”

Some libertarians fear the noninterventionist message is being lost entirely. David Adams cautions that “it is an oversimplification to call [Rand Paul] an anti-war candidate,” even though he would not have voted for the Iraq war. The younger Paul is still undecided about what our policy should be in Afghanistan. “Rand is terrified of the foreign policy his father has supported,” opines a libertarian activist who says he was rebuffed when he tried to arrange a meeting between Rand Paul staffers and J Street, an organization that bills itself as a more dovish Israel lobby. 

Yet many such libertarians remain reluctant to criticize the younger Paul publicly. “All of the signs I’ve seen so far are bad,” the activist says. “And politicians usually get worse rather than better once they’re in office. But we’re still trying to be hopeful.” Another professional libertarian declares that the candidate will “either be exactly the kind of thing we need, someone who is reliable on the most important things but willing to be tactical when he needs to be, or he’ll turn out to be so pragmatic that he’s indistinguishable from other Republicans.”

“I’ve heard from people who love my dad who don’t like some of the positions I’ve taken,” Rand Paul says. “Well, I love my dad too, but I don’t agree with him all of the time.” The younger Paul sees his strategy as part of bringing small-government ideas into the mainstream. “I’m trying to emphasize our similarities, not our differences,” he says. “I am not trying to splinter off into a smaller and smaller group. I am trying to create a force than can win an election.”

Dr. Maybe

The delicate balance that Rand Paul is trying to strike is a difficult one. Ron Paul’s campaign in the 2008 primaries was unable to pull it off, if it even tried. Republican congressman turned Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr tried and failed even more spectacularly during the general election. But there is one Republican success story in recent history when it comes to the strategy of making anti-interventionist politics palatable to interventionist conservatives. His name is Ron Paul.

When Ron decided to return to Congress in 1996, the national Republican leadership had a different idea: They persuaded Democratic congressman Greg Laughlin to switch parties and run for re-election in his Texas district as a Republican. Paul had to challenge Laughlin in the primary. Former President George H.W. Bush, then-Gov. George W. Bush, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich all enthusiastically supported Laughlin. “I did not see a single Dallas Cowboys fan boo Deion Sanders,” Gingrich said as he tried to persuade Texans to embrace another team switcher.

Ron Paul tapped a national army of libertarians to finance his campaign, raising more than 60 percent of his funds outside the district. But he also pitched himself as the true conservative—his lifetime American Conservative Union rating at the time was 91 out of 100 to Laughlin’s middling 56—by touting his early ties to Reagan and finessing his differences with mainstream Republicans.

“They tried to paint me as a drug pusher,” Paul later complained to Campaigns & Elections magazine, “but the voters weren’t buying it. I had never advocated legalization and they knew it. I had condemned the federal war on drugs.…It’s had just terrible consequences.” Paul’s campaign manager in that race, Mark Elam, even took issue with Laughlin’s criticisms of his candidate on the first Iraq war. “That was completely outrageous,” he said, stating that Paul had opposed the decision to go to war but “fully supported our effort once the war was underway.” Ron Paul won the primary and went on to be the most consistently libertarian member of Congress, representing a congressional district that voted for George W. Bush and John McCain.

As with the elder Paul, Rand Paul’s campaign raises questions beyond whether he wins or loses this election. Can libertarians work within the Republican Party? At what price comes political power? “I think a lot of people who didn’t support him in the primaries are starting to understand that my dad was right about a lot of things,” says the younger Paul. But as his dad says, Rand Paul is his own man. 

W. James Antle III (jimantle@aol.com) is associate editor of The American Spectator.

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  • Bill C||

    Rand Paul is going to need all the help those who care about liberty can muster. He is getting attacked by the same discredited hacks that got us in this mess and they are going to launch probably the most vicious smear campaign in political history.

    Please consider donating on April 19th (Date of Lexington & Concord) to aid against this onslaught against he establishment "Royalists".

    Rand Paul Patriots' Day Moneybomb - To Win the Primary! (Facebook)

  • Andrew Jackson||

    they are going to launch probably the most vicious smear campaign in political history

    Hyperbole much?

  • Bill C||

    Maybe...but I'm not the only one. Here's a post from a former VP of the Kentucky GOP and although he is pro-Bunning he is not necessarily pro-Rand: http://www.bluegrassbulletin.c.....ipper.html

  • ||

    As soon as Rand, Ron and their cavalry of phone banks stop calling me, I might think about donating...

  • robc||

    Considering that was written 3 weeks ago and it hasnt happened yet....

    Primary is 5 weeks from today if Im counting correct, so the "last 6 weeks" thing hasnt started yet.

    I was traveling around the state on saturday and I saw huge numbers of Rand Paul signs. did not see a single Grayson one. Metcalfe County, for example, is covered in Paul signs. Yard signs and big signs.

  • ||

    Lexington only has a smattering of Paul signs, yet very few Grayson signs. Paul is at about 20:1 here, but with a very small sample.

  • robc||

    As a friend of mine pointed out, Grayson, being part of the McConnell machine, will put up ALL his signs in one night, so that the change is noticeable the next day. However, in Metcalfe, there arent many yards available for Grayson signs. And there are so many signs for the smaller races (yard signs are much more popular in the country, seems there were 3-5 in every yard) that Grayson's signs might get lost in the mix not being out early enough.

  • Mike||

    I find that an interesting cultural thing. My wife's from an upper class suburb, and to her the idea of using signs in your yard to support your candidate is really kind of tacky. I guess the correct way is to go to a country club dinner so you can write a check.

  • ||

    Ha - I feel the same way as your wife. My wife's boss is running for state senate, and I came home one day and winced to see his yard sign in front of our house.

    There are places where it's appropriate. I was at the Knob Creek machinegun shoot last weekend, and there was Rand Paul merchandise EVERYWHERE.

  • Taylor||

    Really? I grew up in Beverly Hills, CA, and people use lawn signs there all the time.

  • Zeb||

    I just feel like they are pointless. Do yard signs influence anyone at all? I think they are just annoying. People should put whatever they want in their yards, but the masses of signs beside the road just piss me off.

  • Bill C||

    Yeah the signs will probably appear suddenly. I forgot where I read it but I read the hugely successful Perry campaign avoided supplying (and paying for) yard signs.

    The "tacky" charge by Mike might be on the mark but given where the mood is I'd guess it's better to be and look more like the grassroots.

  • Colin||

    +1

  • ||

    "Can libertarians work within the Republican Party?"

    Maybe, for a very short period of time.

    The GOP and the Libertarians can co-exist as long as they share a common "enemy", the explosive growth of Big Government under the Democrats.

    But once the GOP is back in power, we're going to find that they are unwilling to overturn health care, they'll continue with the bailout mentality, the FED will remain independent and all powerful, entitlements will still be the order of the day, and social conservatism will make a roaring come back.

    When that happens, the Libertarians will be shown the door by the GOP, with heart filled thanks for the libertarians being willing to be used as "useful idiots".

    But that's just my opinion.

  • smartass sob||

    social conservatism will make a roaring come back.

    I wasn't aware that it had ever left since the last time the Republicans were in power.

  • Wegie||

    "But that's just my opinion."
    And a good one it is.

  • Chris||

    This.

  • Chris J||

    You are absolutely right.

  • Kolohe||

    Well, with the Eric Dondero endorsement sewn up, I don't see how he can lose.

  • smartass sob||

    That's not nice, Kolohe. ;-)

  • jacob||

    +1

  • ||

    The number of people who seem to be supporting Rand simply because of who his father is without having any understanding of what policies he supports is troubling. He is not a libertarian, he is a fiscal conservative, and he has no problem with the war on drugs or the regulatory burden which are both far more pressing issues then the role of the fed and the size of the national debt. The only policy that is really of much interest to me is revoking the 17th amendment, minarchists in general should be galvanising behind him purely on this front not the insane misconceptions about things he doesn't even support.

    This is indicative of a general problem among minarchists, they support reform that treats symptoms not causes. The cause of everything that is wrong with the federal gov is the loss of states rights, once that is fixed we can work locally (and probably much more effectively) to achieve liberty. Stop destructive legislation before it even exists rather than continuing to treat a system that simply doesn't work.

  • robc||

    States dont have rights, thus they cannot be lost.

    States have powers.

  • robc||

    If natural law didnt make this obvious, the Xth Amendment spells it out:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

  • ||

    Superpowers, however, are reserved for localities and their supermen on city councils.

  • k-y||

    There is only one superpower.

    Comin' again to save the motherfucking day, yeah!

  • Buck O'Five||

    Word.

  • ||

    ...and he has no problem with the war on drugs or the regulatory burden...

    I must have missed this part of his platform, *eyebrow raise*

  • Colonel_Angus||

    He may not be campaigning so much on these issues, but he's probably not likely to vote in favor of industry regulations and paternalism.

  • Juice||

    The only solution he's expressed on the drug front is to lessen criminal penalties for those arrested for marijuana possession. And, as far as I know, that's about it.

  • Cookie Kwan||

    Liam, you're right, but on the other side of the coin, I appreciate the fact that Rand Paul is not a "mini-me" of his father. He actually has his own thoughts and opinions.

    Another area where he breaks away from his father:

    http://www.randpaul2010.com/20.....uantanamo/

    From Rand Pauls website:

    Rand Paul: Try, Convict and Lock Up Terrorists In Guantanamo
    Published on 19 November 2009 by admin in General News
    0 For Immediate Release
    November 19, 2009

    BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY – Leading United States Senate candidate Rand Paul today criticized the Obama administration’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and try terrorism suspects in United States Civil Courts.

    “Foreign terrorists do not deserve the protections of our Constitution,” said Dr. Paul. “These thugs should stand before military tribunals and be kept off American soil. I will always fight to keep Kentucky safe and that starts with cracking down on our enemies.”

    Dr. Paul believes in strong national defense and thinks military spending should be our country’s top budget priority. He has also called for a Constitutional declaration of war with Afghanistan.

    Ron Paul wouldn't be caught dead saying such a thing, although he may confess to his son that that's how he really feels when outside the clutches of his handler, Lew Rockwell.

  • robc||

    Ron Paul wouldn't be caught dead saying such a thing

    He has also called for a Constitutional declaration of war with Afghanistan.

    Ummmm...what?

  • dave b.||

    I have no problems with the official declaration of war, but Gitmo prisoners should be tried in civilian courts on US soil.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Why?

  • Juice||

    Because of the 5th amendment?

  • Juice||

    Sorry. And the 6th amendment.

  • Mike||

    You may be right. But at this point, isn't a mere fiscal conservative good enough?

  • Kroneborge||

    +1

  • Chris||

    No. Yearning back to the days when Gays were considered mostly likely to bring an end to the world as we know it by "changing the 'definition' of marriage", nearly 1,000,000 Americans arrested per annum for marijuana possession alone, et al is not good enough.

  • fearsomepirate||

    For most libertarians, no...they'd apparently rather have outright Marxists in control of everything if they can't have disciples of Murray Rothbard dismantling the government.

    Which is why the Libertarian Party is doomed to be the refuge of dogmatists and never make things any better.

  • CE||

    Somehow I think the size of the national debt is going to bite us all in the butt a lot more than the other things you're worried about....

    And does anyone really believe that we would end up with a different set of Senators if the state legislatures picked them? If anything that would just provide a rubber stamp for the establishment candidates, and prevent the occasional populist upset, as may well occur in Kentucky this year.

  • Anon||

    The incentives would be different. Since (most) politicians are only interested in their own power and reelection, they would object more to the concentration of executive power and advocate for the the power of those who elect them (the state governments).

  • k-y||

    It would take awhile for equilibrium to be restored but, over time I would expect to see an increase in the voice of the state level offices of the parties in shaping the national party agendas rather than the reverse which we see now.

    Currently, Senators are motivated to build their war chests for expensive campaigns. These accounts rely on the assistance of (or are threatened by) the national parties and so most Senators tend to take their marching orders from the larger RNC/DNC or else attempt to explain why a position is untenable in their district and hope for support despite the difference.

    If a Senator was appointed by the state legislature, you would have many more instances where Senators were being warned "I don't give a shit what the Senate Majority Leader says, you represent Texas and resolution x is bad for Texas! If you like your job, vote NO!"

  • ||

    he has no problem with the war on drugs

    Got any more baldfaced lies you want to pull out of your ass?

    -jcr

  • ||

    He supports the legalisation of MJ but the continuation of prohibition elsewhere. He might pay lip service to the idea of ending the war on drugs but as long as prohibition exists so will the war.

  • Juice||

    He supports the legalisation of MJ

    No, he doesn't.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Indeed.

  • ||

    Rand Paul is not Ron Paul, that's for sure.

    He looks like just another Republican to me. Well, maybe more like Jim Leach, the other Republican besides Ron Paul to vote against the Iraq War Resolution. Leach is also the Leach in Graham-Leach-Bliley Act. Yeah, that Jim Leach.

    Rand Paul is closer to that guy than to his father.

  • ||

    Well, maybe more like Jim Leach, the other Republican besides Ron Paul to vote against the Iraq War Resolution.

    Weird use of grammar you are having here. The number of Republican House members who voted against was six. One of whom, six-termer John Hostettler of Indiana, lost re-election to Brad Ellsworth, though he's running for the Senate now.

    Leach is also the Leach in Graham-Leach-Bliley Act. Yeah, that Jim Leach.

    Implying that that that caused the crisis is general sign of ignorance.

  • Juice||

    While I agree with you, who the hell are you? You even stole an old throw away email I once used for these sites.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Dude, these comments are three years old. You're talking to YOURSELF

  • ||

    That is fucking meta. Or something.

  • Y||

    But at least he agrees with himself. That has got to count for something.

  • mr simple||

    Rand Paul may not be the ideal candidate or senator, but he's the best thing we've got going in Kentucky right now. I am reticent to give my vote, or any power, to anyone, but I am a lot more ready to give it to Paul over Grayson or whomever the Dems throw out. Kentucky establishment pols are bad no matter what the letter after their name.

  • CE||

    Dr. Paul's lead in Kentucky shouldn't be considered all that surprising. People can tell the difference between a real small government conservative and a party hack without too much trouble.

  • jacob||

    The libertarian Republican activist Eric Dondero, a disgruntled former staffer of the elder Paul who contemplated a primary challenge against him

    Well, how did that work out for Dondero?

  • k-y||

    It gave him a headache and made him annoying on the internets.

  • ||

    Am I the only one disturbed by this article's lead, or have we become numb to influential evangelicals' use of their faith as political leverage? I'm an evangelical and I would much prefer these preachers spread the gospel than to dabble in politics. If they believe what the claim, they should know better than to align themselves with politicials and instead have faith that God alone can bring about the social changes they seem to crave.

    I realize it may be difficult to separate faith and politics, but I dont' read of Jesus or any of the Apostles holding political rallies.

    Since I don't live in Kentucky I haven't spent a lot of time getting acquainted with Rand Paul's politics. He seems, relatively speaking, fairly reasonable when I've seen him on CNN, Fox, and elsewhere. I suppose we could do worse.

  • ||

    Goodness... my hands are cold and my spelling has taken on a curious nature as a result. Translations:
    "...believe what *they* claim..."
    "...align themselves with *politicians* and instead..."

  • Kroneborge||

    So if you are a Christian, that means you lose the rest of your rights to particpate in the political process, and decide what laws the country implements?

  • k-y||

    No, but it also doesn't mean you have lost your right to be a hypocrite.

  • ||

    Participate away. But don't attempt to claim the moral high ground simply because you've got a large congregation or are the founder of a national family organization. Unless and until anyone can show me Christ or the Apostles using the political system to change society based on what they believed, you can't convince me that today's preachers should behave any differently.

    That said, and for what it is worth, from a strictly dogmatic perspective, we *do* give up our rights when we sign on to become followers of Christ, who said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." (Luke 9:23-24)

  • Chris||

    His political platform is nothing more than a slightly modified version of your average conservative. I do live in Kentucky, have seen the abundance of Rand Paul signs in my area (Jessamine County - just south of Lexington) so my wife and I decided to visit his site to check out his platform. Some of it was pretty good:

    Term restrictions on Congressmen
    Ditching the Patriot Act
    Fiscal responsibility
    Campaign Finance Reform

    Others are terrible:

    Pro Life (and meaning to introduce incremental levels of law aimed at working towards overturning Roe v Wade
    Pro "underground electric fence" along the border to keep the evil brown people out
    Pro Drug War

    What he sounds like to me is a conservative whose trying to sound small government while Team Blue is running things, but who will have his own pro Big Government spree once things turn more in favor of Team Red.

  • ||

    "evil brown people" - your an idiot. What happens to a society that has universal free everything, when we dump millions on the doll?

  • ||

    "Am I the only one disturbed by this article's lead, or have we become numb to influential evangelicals' use of their faith as political leverage?"

    You realize it's a pun on Hemingway, right?

  • ||

    Yes, and I also know the difference between a lead and a headline.

  • ||

    Great read!

    This Kentuckian will be voting Rand Paul May 18th!

  • ||

    I'm waiting for the lame David Harsanyi hit piece on Rand Paul.

  • ||

    I think Reason is on board, but wait for the Weigel piece.

  • PicassoIII||

    Bathwater: Palin endorsement, daddy's newsletter baggage, icky Christian conservative connections.

    Baby: A serious libertarian leaning R in the FREAKING SENATE, one of 100 as opposed to one out of 535.

    Even the most ardent cosmotarian should be thrilled.

  • Kroneborge||

    +1

  • pebbles||

    +1

  • ||

    435 House members, not 535.

  • PicassoIII||

    Arghh ... a little sloppy on teh numpad.
    Thanks prole

  • Chris||

    Were he serious a Libertarian leaning R I would be in full agreement, but his Pro Drug War, anti-abortion, brown people are evil platform says that he isn't.

    He talks a big game about freedom, but has his own ideas on how government can "help" us achieve that freedom.

  • fearsomepirate||

    Where does he say "brown people are evil?"

    Not enforcing the law is not a solution. And free immigration is incompatible with a welfare state. Any sane pol is going to understand that if you want to open up immigration, you have to simultaneously dismantle the welfare state. The latter is *still* politically a non-starter. Going for amnesty or whatever without doing the latter will simply hasten the national day of bankruptcy, not produce a libertarian utopia.

  • ||

    I've been waiting for the "sun/son" play on words, but I was expecting George Harrison, not Hemingway. It's alright, little darling.

  • robc||

    Interesting stat from looking at the recent KY senate polling --- 58% of likely Democratic primary voters (KY is a closed primary state, so these are registered democrats who vote in primaries) own a gun.

    It explains why we have good gun laws.

  • ||

    What is a good gun law exactly?

  • robc||

    Section 1 of the Ky constitution (which is a law in the "law of the land" type way):

    All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned:

    ...

    Seventh: The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.

    That last part keeps it from being a great law, but its a good gun law. And the state Supremes have held up that law as written. Any munis who have tried to pass gun laws have been shot down.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Any munis who have tried to pass gun laws have been shot down.

    Interesting choice of words.

  • ||

    Guys...it looks like this might be a compromise for Reason types(a little too religous) and Rockwell types(not quite as anti-war) where both types can at least agree this fellow should not be smeared and he is better than Grayson or whoever else is going to come out of Kentucky.

    Face it, there are not enough swanky cosmotarian sushi bars and Rothbard reading groups in Kentucky to get a "pure" libertarian elected.

    If we ever make any POLITICAL progress in fighting back the encoraching state it will take a lot of politicians that are able to campaign intelligently and then vote correctly when it matters....is that possible for ANY human?...will politics ever fix things?

    I really doubt it, but if it does, then this is what it would look like.

    I hope Rand wins big!

  • robc||

    swanky cosmotarian sushi bars

    You might be surprised.

    Now Im craving Maido.

  • robc||

    Life out a link

  • ||

    Looks like a nice place. I am not saying they don't exist in Kentucky, I just don't think there are enough of those to win an election without having some comfort level with using Christian code-speak and not violating the "I support our troops" taboos.

  • robc||

    In KY, christians and "I support our troops" types eat at sushi restaurants.

  • Cookie Kwan||

    Gabe said, "Guys...it looks like this might be a compromise for Reason types(a little too religous) and Rockwell types(not quite as anti-war)...".

    I don't get this at all. Isn't it the other way around? (Reason readers tend to be not as "anti-war" and LR readers tend to be overly-religious and anti-war in every sense of the Cindy Sheehan name.) Please clarify.

  • ||

    Cookie, it means Rand is a little too religious for Reason readers and not anti-war enough for Rockwell types.

  • Cookie Kwan||

    Ahhh. Thanks Gene. I understand.

  • Chris||

    There is no question: Rand is infinitely better than Grayson. Grayson is a tool.

  • ||

    Opposing gay marriage in this day and age is moronic. The very foundation of Libertarianism is that all people hold inalienable rights to their pursuit of happiness. I'll take someone who votes for TARP a thousand times over someone who supports DOMA. What a goddamn shame.

  • robc||

    I oppose all government sponsored marriage including, but not limited to, gay marriage.

    You are an idiot if you would support a Tarpster instead.

  • ||

    +1 ROBC

    Liberty,
    you think the government should officially recognize the status we assign to those we fuck? change your name to "fan of government in all our bedrooms"

  • ||

    I agree, and that's why I would vote for Rand if I lived in KY. I might not agree with his personal views, but I can live with individual states making the decisions as Rand proposes.

  • ||

    "I'll take someone who votes for TARP a thousand times over someone who supports DOMA. What a goddamn shame"

    Well, Trey Grayson backed the TARP, and is against Gay Marriage. So I guess you won't be supporting him.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Marriage is just a fucking entitlement program anyway. Just like TARP.

  • k-y||

    Funneh!

  • fearsomepirate||

    When the society goes bankrupt because of things like TARP, it won't matter what marriage law is. We will have social chaos and likely tip over the line into totalitarianism. I mean, it literally DOES NOT MATTER what the rest of a country's policies are if its currency becomes completely debauched. When the value of the paper hits zero, it's game over for everything.

  • ||

    Time to let your voice be heard and give your opinions:

    http://www.teapartyrevolution.com

  • Comrade Zero||

    From where I stand, Rand Paul really has too much appeal to the "We're not free 'cause of all these homos, feminists and blacks" crowd to really be considered a libertarian.

  • Cookie Kwan||

    And Joooos Comrade Zero. You left out the Jews.

  • jj||

    Comrade zero, I thought the point was to vote for a candidate, not an electorate. But I'm confused. It seems you vote based on whom is voting alongside you?

  • k-y||

    That's how we do it here in the good ol' usuvaye.

  • generic Brand||

    You spelled MERica wrong.

  • pebbles||

    We have no "real" libertarians in the house or senate. And until you can find a viable, pure candidate, I'd suggest going with one that may just vote that way 75% of the time.

  • ||

    Its Kentucky

    For a libertarian leaning Republican he's the best we're gonna get. Besides, don't you wanna see Bill Kristol's head explode?

  • jacob||

    OOOh Oooh! I do, I do!

  • ||

    and what would the Grayson crowd be called?

  • ||

    Grayson's the candidate of the country-club Republicans. That is, the ones who don't even try to pretend to offer anything but business as usual.

    -jcr

  • Kroneborge||

    When picking a politician, it's very unlikely that you will ever get 100% agreement with them on all issues. Thus, you need to focus on the important ones and go from there.

    IMO, our coming problems with government debt and entilements dwarf ALL other issues. The Iraq and Afagn wars are penuts compared to them. Thus focus number one is to stop us from turning into a banana republic.

    Rand Paul seems to score very big on that.

    Attach on the fact that he's good on guns, and better than most on drugs, and he seems like a pretty good fit IMO.

  • ||

    when picking a friend/mate/co-worker/reason board pal...it is doubtful you will get 100% agreement. All these issues are fractals much more complicate than a chess game...nobody can agree on all the issues 100%.

    Make it a goal to marry someone you agree with 100%....tell me how that works out for you in a few years.

  • Kroneborge||

    So you are agreeing with me right?

  • ||

    yes...I should have just said

    +1

    excuse my poor social skills please.

  • robc||

    When picking a politician, it's very unlikely that you will ever get 100% agreement with them on all issues.

    This would be true if I was running for office.

  • ||

    This would be true if I was running for office.

    No, I would express strong disagreement with your failure to use the subjunctive there.

  • robc||

    I wrote it poorly, but I was saying that I wouldnt even agree with myself 100% of the time.

  • robc||

    A good time to repost robc's 2 rules of libertarianism:

    1. Everyone agrees with libertarians on something.

    2. No two libertarians agree about anything.

  • ||

    The bigger problem with libertarianism is that far too many people are "libertarian, but..." (or "fiscally conservative but socially liberal"), and vote on the basis of the hot-button exception issues of the day.

  • ||

    The only way you're gonna get a politician you agree with 100% of the time is to run for office yourself and win.

    If you get someone who's with you 75% of the time, that's pretty damn good.

  • ||

    " The Iraq and Afagn wars are penuts compared to them."

    Slaughtering some wogs -- that's no big deal. But let the interest rate soar on government debt -- THAT'S bad.

  • Distinguished Gentleman||

    http://63.e5bed1.client.atlant.....ey+Grayson

    Now here's a donor of Rand's opponent you wouldn't expect. Or perhaps we should.

  • Mark||

    Koch is funding Grayson?
    WOW

  • ||

    So much for the Koch brothers' claim to being libertarians.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Must protect the Fed and the military industrial complex.

  • ||

    you guys finaly figured out my true identity.

  • ||

    All it means is SOMEONE who works at Koch is funding grayson. It doesn't mean the Koch brothers are, or the company is.

  • ||

    The Democrats (and Salon, but I repeat myself) seem to think that Rand Paul being nominated will give the election to the Democrats, and fear Grayson. Whatever the polls say.

  • ||

    The polls seem to be saying that whichever Republican wins the primary will likely be the next Senator from KY.

  • ||

    Hurrah for Rand Paul. If he is anything like his father, he would be a blessing. Too bad, though, that conservatives feel that their best choice is the (neo) con Republican party that promoted most of the problems that now face the country. A third (specifically, Libertarian) party would turn the rotting of America around, but most people fear that they are wasting their vote and so, continue the degradation of the nation.

  • PNC||

    Rand Paul, like his even more nutty father, is way outside of the American mainstream.

    He will NOT be a reliable Republican vote in the Senate. A vote for Rand Paul is a vote against a real conservative agenda.

    If he wins the GOP primary due to the shady Libertarian machinations that are certainly going on, Grayson should run in a three-way general election contest as an independent.

  • Not a Populist||

    Libertarians make me sad. Sad, because I'd vote for them at every turn but cannot because of their bass-ackwards philosophies regarding American interests/National Defense and Security policies.

    I'd feel like I'd be voting to put grandma in charge of my future...she might not waste much money but ya better hope those nasty neighbors we ignored the past few years don't come storming over to take our sh!t cause we'll be SOL.

  • Colin||

    Great title.

  • generic Brand||

    Worse than the old "wasted vote" argument libertarian candidates often face is the conversation I had with my girlfriend yesterday. We tend to avoid political conversations because a) we don't agree on too much; and b) she doesn't like them and I tend to get overly involved.

    But anyways, after I explained what some of the libertarian focuses were (especially ending the war on drugs), she gave the standard "with less government people will just start raping, murdering, using and abusing drugs" fanfare. And she didn't say it, but I'm pretty sure she was thinking that babies would begin to be eaten at some point. It was really hard for me to flat out say "So...?" to her, but I really don't understand why people think this way, especially a recent college graduate in her mid-twenties.

    But when most people continue to think a sudden drop off in government control will instantly result in pandemonium and baby-eating then it's a bleak outlook for libertarianism.

  • Christopher Carr||

    I don’t see why liberals aren’t thrilled about this. For Obama supporters honestly hoping for a post-partisan politics, a focused and de-radicalized tea party, working together with conservatives to solve problems, and political disagreement based in difference of values instead of Orwellian arguments about facts, Rand Paul is exactly what this country needs. For those who value heterodoxy, whether Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, Rand Paul should be a welcome addition to the U.S. Senate.

    http://www.theinductive.com/bl.....tucky.html

  • Johnathan Aimes||

    I agree Rand Paul could do this country some good!

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  • Mary Bremer||

    If Rand Paul is anything like his father, he would be a blessing.

    A third party would turn America around but most people fear that they are wasting their vote...

  • ปลวก||

    Rand Paul is exactly what this country needs. For those who value heterodoxy, whether Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, Rand Paul should be a welcome addition to the U.S. Senate.

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  • richardsu||

    I agree Rand Paul could do this country some good!

  • Sam||

    Rand Paul is a tough guy to figure out. Is he a civil libertarian or a right winger. Will he not abuse the power of the federal government and use its adminstrative agencies (such as the IRS) as tools to advance social policies? Many politicians espousing tax reforms and/or redistributions of wealth via tax laws and the IRS have started out the same way. Lets hope Mr. Paul can navigate this very slipperly political slope.

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    For Obama supporters honestly hoping for a post-partisan politics, a focused and de-radicalized tea party, working together with conservatives to solve problems, and political disagreement based in difference of values. | ran แรน |

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  • amit @ Big Booty||

    Rand Paul looks like another politician to me. I dont know wheather to trust or not.

    Usually, when i see son, dad getting in together.. i have a strong feeling of corruption and more monarchy type of administration. (dad passing to son)

    And, Usually, they are really corrupt too..
    May be i m stereotyping.. but thats just me

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  • CE||

    Interesting reading comments from 3 years ago... how many of these commenters are still around? Are they surprised Rand won, and is now a leading presidential contender for 2016?

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