National Security Republicans Go Gunning for Senate Front-Runner Rand Paul


So, a Tea Party-favored candidate for the U.S. Senate is leading in his primary race to replace a sitting Republican senator who is stepping down. Sounds like a win-win for the wannabe TP co-opters of the GOP, right? Not if the candidate in question is Ron Paul's son Rand. Politico has the story:

Alarming radical

A win by Paul, a Bowling Green ophthalmologist, would represent the first true electoral success of the tea party movement. Equally important, it would embarrass Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose political organization is running [Trey] Grayson's campaign, thrust onto the national stage a Republican with foreign policy views out of the conservative mainstream and, strategists in both parties believe, imperil the GOP's hold on the seat now held by retiring Sen. Jim Bunning.

Recognizing the threat, a well-connected former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney convened a conference call last week between Grayson and a group of leading national security conservatives to sound the alarm about Paul.

"On foreign policy, [global war on terror], Gitmo, Afghanistan, Rand Paul is NOT one of us," Cesar Conda wrote in an e-mail to figures such as Liz Cheney, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Dan Senor and Marc Thiessen.

With an attached memo on Paul's noninterventionist positions, Conda concluded: "It is our hope that you can help us get the word out about Rand Paul's troubling and dangerous views on foreign policy."

In an interview, Conda noted that Paul once advocated for closing down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and sending some suspected terrorists to the front lines in Afghanistan.

"This guy could become our Republican senator from Kentucky?" he exclaimed. "It's very alarming."

As our upcoming magazine feature on the Rand Paul campaign makes clear, the son is not the father when it comes both to foreign policy and the politics thereof; he's less of a principled non-interventionist, and that aspect is less central to his philosophy. Which makes it all the more galling that the militarist dead-enders in the GOP would go after arguably the most promising Tea Partyish candidate yet from within their own ranks. Especially with tactics like these:

Part of the strategy is to portray Paul as just plain weird.

Grayson has launched a website, www.randpaulstrangeideas.com, that features a picture of a turtleneck-clad Paul against a quasi-psychedelic background and that details his positions on national security as well as cultural matters such as marriage, abortion and marijuana (as a libertarian-leaning Republican, Paul tends to want such matters decided on the state level).

One of the best scare-tabs at the website is "Funded by Out Of State Libertarians"….