The post-filibuster rise of Rand Paul from weirdo maverick to soul of the Republican Party continues as Politico asks the question: could this guy actually win his party's presidential nomination? And answers with a, we can't see why not!
The five reasons:
He has a stronger organization than any other Republican
Paul starts with a built-in base of libertarians that comprises at least 10 percent of the GOP electorate, and his boosters have made tremendous inroads in state parties around the country.
They may be a minority, but they are a devoted one. Paul supporters will drive farther and work harder than any other 2016 contender's core backers. They also tend to be younger and engaged on social media and the blogosphere in ways that people who support someone of the older generation like, say, Jeb Bush are not….
He's perceived as principled
Grass-roots conservatives in the early states loathe career politicians as much as ever. There's a real appetite for someone who doesn't always do the politically prudent thing.
The filibuster was a seminal moment not because it changed the conversation on drones but because it showed that Paul cared so deeply about something that he was willing to not urinate for 13 hours….
His dad's nickname was Dr. No, and the younger Paul has a similar voting record. Paul consistently opposes spending bills, which means that he cannot be attacked in 2016 like Rick Santorum was in the 2012 debates for supporting earmarks. Paul backs a balanced budget amendment, term limits and even returned money to the treasury that he did not spend from his office budget.
He's more cautious than voters realize
Paul often speaks carefully and gives nuanced answers. It's an acknowledgment of sorts that if he wants to be a mainstream leader of the party, he needs to be careful about offending large swaths of Republicans.
His immigration speech is a case in point. An early draft obtained by The Associated Press prompted the wire to report that he would endorse a "path to citizenship," but when Paul delivered his speech, he avoided that term…
On other issues, Paul takes a states-rights federalist approach. He thinks states should decide whether to allow medicinal marijuana, for example.
On CNN Tuesday, he talked up his support for "life" but dodged when pressed by Wolf Blitzer on what specific exceptions he supports for abortion. (He introduced a bill last week that would say life begins at conception.) At the same time, Paul has rankled some social conservatives with his position on gay marriage.
"I'm an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage," he told National Review last week. "That being said, I'm not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the Tax Code more neutral so it doesn't mention marriage."
He appears to have fewer skeletons than his father
…..Barring a surprise, opponents have nowhere near the volume of material on Rand Paul, a benefit of spending most of his adult life on the periphery of politics….
He can play the inside game in a way his dad never could
After introducing several bills during his first two years in the Senate that went nowhere, Paul has become a more savvy legislator.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the alliance he has formed with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who backed Paul's GOP primary opponent in 2010. Paul's campaign manager that year, Jesse Benton, is now running McConnell's 2014 reelection effort.
After a rough start during his campaign, Paul has become adept with the media. He kept the buzz around his filibuster going for days with a series of interviews and events.
And he has taken pains to brand his foreign policy ideas as within the GOP mainstream. In a recent speech, he described himself as an heir to Ronald Reagan when it comes to national security — "a realist," Paul said, "not a neoconservative, nor an isolationist."….
This longtime libertarian movement watcher has an ingrained cautiousness about declaring the electorate at large is ready to embrace someone as libertarian as Paul. I detailed my own version of the challenges Paul faces on his way to national success last week.
I think the economy is key–the more the next 3 years indicate that Paulite fears of the real consequences of profligate debt and monetary policy are real, the more voters might be willing to embrace what would be, to most, a wrenching change in the direction of fiscal probity and government acting within its means.
That's a general election problem–as far as winning the GOP base, it feels better for Paul, especially since the Party will have no hometeam need to embrace ever-expansionist foreign policy as its own thing–like with the drone filibuster, they can be for peace and a return to a strictly defensive foreign policy posture and be against Obama and the Democratic Party. On all the other things Republicans are supposed to want, Rand Paul is solid.