Rand Paul Explains/Defends His Mitt Romney Endorsement

Sen. Rand Paul yesterday took to two different radio programs minded by core Ron Paul fans to defend his controversial Mitt Romney endorsement.

One was via the Daily Paul website, with host Kurt Wallace. You can listen to it here

My summation of the highlights for them that would rather read than listen: Rand Paul thinks that those fans who were disillusioned--or even got threatening--about his endorsement misunderstand politics and underestimate his own continued value to the liberty movement. They also misunderstand where the movement is right now.

The liberty movement's fight had shifted, Paul said, "from winning the nomination to fighting over the platform and the future of the Republican Party and the future of our country." He points out that the endorsement "doesn't mean anything in terms of my political philosophy and the things I support." To be able to be a player in the Republican Party--and expect any support from his fellow Republicans and many Republican voters--being a member in good standing and supporting the nominee was essential; he points out he made a similar vow in his 2010 Senate race, and has been saying for a year he would support the party's nominee whoever it turns out to be.

More important to the liberty movement, he thinks, should be what he's doing as senator. He talked up four bills he's introduced or supported just this week: to require search warrants for domestic drone use, legalize industrial hemp, end federal mandatory minimum sentences for all non-violent crimes, and end the TSA. He would ask his detractors to focus more on those things, and less on "politics, a messy business that is not what everyone would want it to be." His dad, Rand points out, also supported or endorsed Speaker candidates and congressional candidates within his party who clearly don't agree with him on much. Such collegial games are the price of electoral politics and don't mark one as traitor to the liberty movement where it counts. 

The Romney endorsement "doesn’t change me at all or any of the issues I'm fighting for, but it changes the ability of the liberty movement to have a voice" and he hopes he can get explicit Romney endorsement of the current Federal Reserve audit bill.

He says he has no idea if his father will or would endorse Romney, but that he, Rand, did discuss his own endorsement with Ron and waited til the campaign admitted that Ron Paul winning was not going to happen.

Rand admits the hardcore Paulites are not likely to be swayed by his endorsement, and assures Wallace that he will continue to fight both a President Romney and the rest of his Party if they try to do things he cannot support. He will also, he says, fight hard to end indefinite detention and will refuse to vote for any budget that does not have a five year glide path to balanced, no matter what the rest of his Party does.

He wishes his detractors would look more at things like his role in stopping an amendment that would have allowed the Guantanamo detention of people tried and found innocent in American courts. He can have such successes, he says, because he doesn't go around being pointlessly bellicose to his colleagues, even the ones terrible on most liberty issues. He hopes that he can win the continued trust of the liberty movement because of his actual voting record, not these issues of internal party politics, and alludes to being angry at implied death threats among the more high-strung anonymous folk on the Internet.

He also appeared on former Senate candidate and investment guru Peter Schiff's show to talk about this, saying many of the same things. Video of that interview:

Some highlights from that: Rand says he knew he'd get some Paulite backlash, but largely from the types who still believed there was some chance of turning Romney delegates to Paul in Tampa, something he saw as grossly unrealistic. He again says they still have a chance to be the most effective and loud liberty-minded contingent within the Republican Party there, and possibly move the party on issues such as auditing the Fed, eliminating the Department of Education, Internet freedom, and ending the war in Afghanistan. (He continues to think that platform changes are important, though in this day and age I'm not sure what real influence such things have--what defines the GOP are what GOP candidates say and do, not the "platform" per se, which no one looks at.) 

While Rand has denied the straight-up libertarian label in the past, here he almost calls himself a libertarian ideologue--then scrambles to say more properly, "libertarian conservative." (My favorite small detail: when talking about the good sides of even such bad politicians as John McCain, he refers to McCain's imprisonment as a result of "fighting for what he thought was fighting for his country"--respectful while still not buying into the nobility of the Vietnam mission.)

I don't expect, nor I think did Rand Paul expect, either of these interviews to mollify those who consider him a traitor to the Ron Paul cause. But in the end--and four years from now--what will matter far more is his continuing to be an introducer of and voter for the sort of good bills he references above, and being a public spokesman for the ideas of responsible, limited, constitutional government.

For more on Rand Paul and Ron Paul revolution, see my new book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

Sen. Paul and I discussed that book at a Cato Institute book forum last month:

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  • Ben the Duck||

    [H]e points out he made a similar vow in his 2010 Senate race, and has been saying for a year he would support the party's nominee whoever it turns out to be.[...] He stressed both that his dad also supported or endorsed Speaker candidates and congressional candidates within his party who clearly don't agree with him on much--such collegial games are the price of electoral politics and don't mark one as traitor to the liberty movement where it counts.

    This, and This.

  • Kroneborge||

    It's not nearly enough to need a search warrant for drones, they should be outlawed on US soil except for training purposes on military bases

  • SIV||

    Are you saying I have no right to own an unmanned aircraft?

  • affenkopf||

    This would also stop the Taco copter!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Actually, Rand is now a coward, and I have lost most of what respect I had for him.

  • ||

    Cancel your endorsement!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I never gave him one.

    Agree about the paultards, btw.

  • Brett L||

    Dude. Victory first, then purges. This is why we never win.

  • BakedPenguin||

    He's playing a game so he can stay in the Senate and do things like oppose the Patriot Act. If "endorsing" Romney is the price, I'm glad he's paying it.

  • ||

    I agree about the game playing. It's one of the necessary evils of politics. It's this lack of understanding that has been holding back libertarians from the beginning.

    Libertarians tend to be no-nonsense types (which I respect). Unfortunately, we live in a world that is shit-ripe with nonsense and it's just a fact of life that some of that nonsense is going to have to be waded through.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's just a cover charge. He'll still be able to buy us drinks.

  • ||

    As long as it's with government money, libertarians will back him all the...! - wait, there's something wrong here.

  • ||

    He's playing a game so he can stay in the Senate and do things like oppose the Patriot Act.

    The party leadership doesn't get to decide whether he stays in the Senate. The voters make that decision, and endorsing Romney just pissed off quite a bit of his base.

    Also, promising to endorse ANY Republican nominee? Rand would endorse fucking Santorum if he'd won the nomination?

    I am disappoint.

  • Kroneborge||

    He probably didn't know about Santorum in 2010. And wouldn't have thought he could win.

    Agreed though that would have been a real problem for him.

  • Voros McCracken||

    The problem is, the Republican party has access to these interviews too. If openly admits that these endorsements are just crass politics, what actual good does it do with rank and file Republicans?

    If nobody actually believes he 's a "good Republican" the endorsement accomplishes nothing. They're still going to primary him, they're still gonna refrain from giving him much campaign cash, they're still going to trot out how unacceptable a candidate he is in debates if and when he runs for president.

    Unless he actually convinces them he's "one of them," none of this is of any use.

  • ||

    He's hoping libertarians will take it as a message that he hasn't forsaken his ideals for politics, and that Republicans will take it as a willingness to deal with them, rather than treating them as trash beneath his feet. Courtesy can go a long way.

    Giving the Republicans some sort of out, some way they can (possibly) support Rand or be politically convinced to support some of his ideas without looking stupid, is probably why he's playing nice in the first place. As Reason has noted, Ron Paul had already gotten the Republican Party discussing, and in some instances accepting, more libertarian ideas (e.g. auditing the Fed) through being courteous yet resolute about those ideas. I feel Rand is aiming for a continuation of that.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Please tell me this is a joke.

  • ||

    Love the Paul[s], hate the paultards.

  • Brett L||

    Yup.

  • Ben the Duck||

    Bingo.

  • ||

    I object to the term "paultard" since every time I hear it I feel it's aimed at Paul fans in general, rather than a distinct subgroup of them. I'm not terribly put off by his endorsement (especially considering previous endorsements and promises of endorsements), but the term still emotionally feels like an attack on me for liking Ron Paul. I don't think that's entirely what you meant, but that's how it feels.

  • Finchster||

    BREAKING...Republican senator endorses Republican presidential nominee...BREAKING

  • triclops||

    What confuses me about this whole thing is that so many seem to think there is one True Way to advance liberty. It seems the two main schools of thought are to convert the Rs, or go outside of the two parties.
    But should the effort be pushing for change within both major parties, and be exerting force outside them?
    I think this is what is happening anyway (the liberaltarian angle being, by far, the laggard)and also think this is the best way to advance the agenda of freedom.
    Is it not good that Rand is trying to move things as a Senator, like his father's attempts to do the same as an R Congressman?
    Don't we need Rand Paul AND Gary Johnson?

  • Hyperion||

    That is the main 2 ways. What other way is there? Ron has always been in the change the GOP camp. I am not so sure now. I think a mixed approach is the ticket. If there is a libertarian leaning GOP candidate running, vote for that candidate. Otherwise vote LP. I am voting for Gary Johnson because there is no alternative. Would I still vote for Rand if I lived in KY? Probably, because there wouldn't be a better choice.

    I am still really pissed at Rand over this. That doesn't mean I think that we don't still need him. We do.

  • ||

    I agree, I prefer that people approach the advancement of libertarian ideas in multiple ways, including the "liberaltarian" method (though as you said, that's been the laggard of the three most visible ways).

  • SugarFree||

    BURN THE WITCH!

  • Pro Libertate||

    How do you know he is a witch?

  • SugarFree||

    Because he needs to be burned. Duh. Keep up.

  • Gingrich||

    He turned me into a Newt!

  • SugarFree||

    Fetch me a duck!

  • perlhaqr||

    I laughed. :)

  • Hyperion||

    He is Aqua Buddha. You didn't know?

  • ||

    ...and underestimate his own continued value to the liberty movement.

    That's dangerous territory. Don't succumb to trying to have a cult of personality. No matter how cool you are, you're still just a politician.

  • Mykeuva||

    For me, I'll continue to look at what he does, not just what he says. Personally, I don't care if he endorses Stalin, as long as he votes and introduces bills that promote greater individual liberty.

  • BarryD||

    The guy in Better Off Dead? He was an asshole!

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm not bothered at all about the endorsement. He's a Republican. So long as he votes and speaks more libertarian than not, I'm relatively happy. Ninety-nine more Pauls in the Senate would do a great deal to advance the cause of liberty.

  • BarryD||

    NO! NO!

    If someone doesn't ALWAYS make sure that the perfect is the arch-enemy of the good, he can't be advancing the cause of liberty. He might as well be Pol Pot, now.

  • Hyperion||

    I guess that means no Dems in the Senate.

  • BarryD||

    Can't think of one I'd really miss.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Are there any good Dems in the Senate? Paul good or better? If so, they can stay.

  • Hyperion||

    No

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    audit the Fed

    Not only is the Fed routinely audited but the senior Paul completely wasted his stint as Chair of Monetary Policy where he could inflict pain on the Fed.

    Really, do the Pauls just say this to excite the ignorant Paultards?

  • CE||

    Routinely audited? Why the widespread and frantic opposition to Ron Paul's bills for a full audit then? What part of monkeying with the nation's money supply is it okay to hide?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Deloitte audits the Fed every year. Ron Paul wants Congress to decide monetary policy - a horrible idea.

    Congress is incapable of such.

  • BarryD||

    Oh, but Congress is accountable, though! (ROTFLMAO)

  • BarryD||

    The part that's being hidden is best kept hidden. That's what a buttplug tends to think, anyway.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    So there is a document somewhere that shows exactly what the fed owns, when it bought everything, and how much it paid?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Yes.

    The secretive nature of the Fed is in its loans, not its asset purchases.

    Loans are kept secret for 2 years to protect banks from short-sellers.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    So it's a list of all their assets, except the ones they don't want to tell us about. Gotcha. That Ron Paul sure is kooky, wanting to know the things the Banking Cartel says we shouldn't know! Ridiculous!

  • Dan Bongard||

    Er, isn't "to protect banks from short sellers" is just another way of saying "to ensure that investors pay more than the bank is actually worth"?

    After all, short sellers are only a threat to overvalued companies. If you try short-selling a properly-valued or undervalued company, you lose your shirt.

  • CE||

    If Mitt wants my vote, he would have to make more than a few token concessions/appointments to the liberty movement:

    1. Pledge to balance the budget in a maximum of 8 years, without raising taxes.

    2. Stop ordering hits on suspected criminals and have them arrested and brought to trial, as the Constitution requires.

    3. Set up a special Justice Department federal task force to prosecute local, state and federal law enforcement agents who violate the civil rights of American citizens, invade their homes, shoot their dogs or otherwise abuse the authority entrusted to them.

    4. Swear off torture and bring anyone detained illegally to trial or release them.

    5. Respect state laws regulating the sale of medicinal herbs, even when federal laws differ.

  • fabius||

    I get your point, but any one of those would be enough to get my vote, except maybe #5, which wouldn't be enough to get my vote by itself, unless he counterbalances it with something awful that's not already in his platform. To add another one, put Epstein on the S.C.

  • Hyperion||

    Since he will not do 1 through 5, I guess that rules out him getting your vote.

    My guess is that he will be better on taxes than Obama. On all of the other things, he will be worse.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Great list.

    Zero chance of happening.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    #1 is a pointless pledge, as the president doesn't have the power to unilaterally set the budget.

  • Tonio||

    Angling for the Veep spot. You heard it here, first.

  • Hyperion||

    Actually, I have been hearing that for months now. No way the GOP establishment lets Rand Paul get one step away from the presidency. Likely candidates include Rubio and Christie. Most likely Rubio the neocon.

  • BarryD||

    This would really hurt Romney's chances for election, were he not running against the cryptoneocon.

  • Hyperion||

    If there is one man on earth that could insure Romney getting elected, it would be the big O aided by his court jester side kick, the Biden.

  • T||

    Christie isn't conservative enough. If either of those two, it'll be Rubio.

  • Hyperion||

    Romney isn't exactly conservative either.
    That is my guess though, that it will be Rubio. Either way, I will be voting LP. Even Rand as VP wouldn't change my mind about that, although it would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.... nah, not really.

  • Mensan||

    Rubio for VP, because we can never have enough corruption in the executive branch.

  • Hyperion||

    Well, in that case, he has a few hundred congress critters that he could choose from. Just put all of their names in a big wheel and do a drawing.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Way too many people that would be tempted to help him towards the presidency (not a knock on RP2). Romney would be a fool to have him as VP.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Who *should* Rand endorse?

    Dad won't be running in the general.

    Gary Johnson is wrong on what Ron (and probably Rand as well) regard as a fundamental issue of human rights, namely abortion. Ron's federalism obscures, for some people, his prolife commitment, which includes a prolife amendment when politically feasible. GJ disagreeing on this issue would be like him endorsing puppycide SWAT raids on cancer patients looking for marijuana.

    That leaves Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidates. Now there's a disappointing choice. Fascinated with immigration restriction and fighting IslamoGodwinism, Goode isn't exactly the best poster boy for the freedom philosophy.

    If Rand is going to shoot himself in the foot and foul up his political career, he should at least do so by endorsing a better quality of 3rd party candidate.

  • Dan Bongard||

    Sounds like Rand doesn't understand that you can't be a "real libertarian" unless you completely obnoxious to everyone who isn't, 24/7.

  • paranoid android||

    Endorsing Romney is a purely symbolic gesture, so insofar as Paul is telling the truth when he says that the announcement doesn't reflect any changes in his policy positions, it doesn't seem to compromise his claim to a libertarian-ish-whatever philosophy.

    Much more troubling (and something I've been sad to see has gone totally unreported by Reason) is Paul's contemptible stance on gay marriage (see here: http://tinyurl.com/czbv5t4)

    The guy can't claim he's fighting for liberty and support such blatant state discrimination at the same time.

  • Dan Bongard||

    Gay marriage has nothing to do with liberty. Gay people are already free to marry without fear of arrest or persecution.

    This is about access to government benefits. I think gay couples SHOULD have access to those benefits -- but don't tell me that they, or anyone else, is entitled to them as a natural right!

  • Tully||

    Mr. Doherty, the next time you and Rand are out promoting your latest book, ask him why Jesse Benton needs to make a better salary than Karl Rove ever did. I dare you.

  • Dan Bongard||

    I would guess it is because Benton has no chance of receiving all the non-monetary rewards that Rove received. For example:

    - Access to the President
    - Lucrative book/speaking deals
    - International fame/notoriety
    - Regular guest spots on talking-heads shows for the rest of his life

    The same phenomenon is why, for example, Woody Allen can get Academy Award-winning actors for his films even though Uwe Boll pays better.

  • Tully||

    So Dan, following your logic, that makes it OK for the Paul clan to benefit from a money bomb that was held three days AFTER the elder Paul withdrew from the race? It's not just about endorsing Romney (though that part surely doesn't help). We got fleeced.

    I also find Sen. Paul's weepy take on "death threats" to be a bit of a crocodile's tear. He was silent when certain particularly excitable and idiotic Paul-bots were bombing Sean Hannity with snowballs and spamming "death threats" against anyone who dared to question their infallible Doctor. But now, when that childish rage is turned against Rand, he has the gall to whine about it? Classy Randy. Real classy.

    We're libertarians Rand. We don't resort to violence. Just relax and take our money bombs to the bank.

  • ||

    He is slightly better then most. Then again, that's not saying much, and at the end of the day, he's still a politician. We all know what they're like.

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