Rand Paul Fights for Iowa, Silicon Valley


Robert Costa at National Review revisits Iowa, famously a Ron Paul state (yes, Ron Paul did win the Iowa caucus, in the only way that matters–delegate votes) and finds it is unsurprisingly a place where Rand Paul is also a player.

Costa focuses on the chair of the state party, A.J. Spiker, former Ron Paul campaign staffer in the state:

Paul's advisers credit Spiker for helping Paul rise in Iowa from outsider status in 2008 to near the top of the pack in 2012.

That reputation buoyed Spiker a month after the caucuses, in February 2012, when the the state GOP needed a new chairman after the abrupt resignation of Matt Strawn, who had embarrassingly fumbled the final tally of the caucuses….Spiker decided to make a play for the post, and he used his social conservatism and his Paul network to woo support. "The vote was on a Saturday morning in Des Moines, and Kim Lehman, who supported Santorum, nominated me," he recalls. In his pitch, he talked about the need for the party to stand up for conservative principles, and not just its brand….

Eventually, Spiker won by only one vote, nine to eight. Less than a year after joining the Paul campaign as a volunteer, he became the youngest Republican state chairman in Iowa's history….

What might this mean for Rand?

though he's not officially a member of Senator Rand Paul's political operation, Spiker is still a prominent member of Paul World — the group of politicos close to the Paul family who are quietly getting ready for Paul to run. In our conversation, Spiker plays down his ties and says he speaks to the senator only on rare occasions. "He came here a few times for his father, and I talk to him when he visits, but that's about it," he says…

Spiker's claim of neutrality, however, hasn't stopped his critics from wondering whether he's tilting the party toward the Paul wing, especially after he invited Senator Paul to give a high-profile dinner speech in Cedar Rapids earlier this month — the first major 2016-related invitation that he was able to extend. That gesture clarified the image of cozy relations between the new Iowa GOP vanguard and the Paul family, at least among the establishment Republican operatives who once scoffed at all things Paul.

Those Republicans haven't refrained from blasting Spiker for his association with Paul. Branstad, sources say, has icy relations with Spiker, and several prominent Iowa donors have resisted giving money to a Paul-affiliated party….

Spiker, naturally, dismisses talk of a conspiracy to ensure Paul wins the 2016 Iowa caucuses. "This is more of a generational shift," he says. "There is a group that wants to see the party advance, and there is a group that wants to see principles advance, and the latter is where the party is moving." Regardless, should Paul run, as many close to him expect, he'd no doubt benefit from this Republican sea change. The Paul camp is no longer an Iowa sideshow. It's running the show, and Spiker's odyssey is proof.

Iowa's Spiker has been a fixture in my Ron Paul campaign coverage.

As Matthew Feeney noted last week, while Hillary currently polls ahead of Rand in Iowa, she is closer to him than she is to Marco Rubio.

And last July, I noted the Paul political machine making an open bid to be the force for Internet liberty in the GOP. This week, Rand is doing the political reachout to Silicon Valley big money, as per Buzzfeed:

On the 30th, he'll meet with Facebook executives at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, then deliver a speech at the Hoover Institute, a conservative think tank at Stanford University. In the afternoon, Paul will visit the Google campus and meet with Google executives.

The next day, Paul is scheduled to visit eBay headquarters and then give a speech at the Reagan Library Foundation at a dinner that the Paul source who passed along the details of the trip said will be attended by 950 people. Donors who have given over $25,000 will be in attendance. Paul will sign copies of his book, Government Bullies, there.

The source adds that the trip will include "fundraising and also a bunch of friend-raising," such as with the Frederick Douglass Society, a black conservative group….

Both Pauls have backed a libertarian manifesto supporting internet freedom, and Rand Paul recently gave a full-throated criticism of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations questioning Apple on its tax practices, saying, "I'm offended by a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America's greatest success stories."

As always, I wish Paul well in getting big companies to see any clear connection between their own self-interest and supporting libertarian-ish ideas in national politics.