Rand Paul's Campaign, Haunted by the Ghost of His Living Father


It is a genuinely interesting topic, if you are at all interested in Rand Paul, since his rise to political prominence was so dependent on his father Ron Paul, and his success since them at becoming a fully normalized and mediagenic hot property has to some degree been dependent on his not being his father. A bevy of sources on the eve of Rand's presidential campaign becoming officially official wonder: how is he going to deal with dear old dad?

Gage Skidmore / Foter / CC BY-SA

First, the New York Times, which quotes me explaining why things like dual personal appearances are probably not going to happen. The hed says it most: "Ron Paul Expected to Play Little Role in Rand Paul Campaign":

Ron Paul, who never had much use for mainstream Republican support and never stood much of a chance at winning the nomination, can be unpredictable. He revels in making provocative statements — which could mean trouble for his son on the campaign trail.

"Ron Paul is a bomb waiting to go off," said Brian Doherty, an author of a book on the elder Mr. Paul and a journalist for Reason, the libertarian publication. "It would be silly to do this dual campaign thing, and I think they know it. Ron is going to say things that Rand is not going to want to stand behind."

That book, which the New York Times never wants you to know the title of no matter many times they mention it, is Ron Paul's Revolution.

David "Ex-Reason" Weigel reports at Bloomberg that Ron will at least be at the official announcement, with a good history of the hows and whys of Senator Rand Paul not being a closely identified ally of Private Citizen and Activist Educator Ron Paul. Weigel also notes that the Rand Machine just hates this whole topic and wants it to go away:

No one is going to stop Ron Paul from talking; no one is going to convince Rand Paul to answer questions about what his dad says. There can only be so many Ron/Rand "daddy issues" stories. "I don't read them at all now," snarked RANDPAC spokesman Doug Stafford in an e-mail. Once Rand Paul becomes a presidential candidate in his own right, surely, the narrative has to change.

We'll see. There are a lot of pixels to display in a modern media environment for a presidential candidate who, unlike Ron Paul, is actually being already treated as a serious player from before day one.

Philip Bump at the Washington Post notes that the venerable Paulite internet gathering place Daily Paul is letting itself fade away in the Rand Paul age, and wonders on the alas data-free question of whether all the Ron fans and voters of 2012 will stay Rand fans and voters in 2016.

The vexing question of how representative the hundreds of active Internet chatterers and thousands of event attendees were or are of the 2.1 million Paul voters has never had an authoritative answer, though my own rough sense of how many Americans hew to serious across-the-board libertarian beliefs and can gin up the passion about wherever they were coming from of the activist Paulista would lead me to believe, probably not that representative.

While the Rand Paul campaign can rest assured there is almost certainly not another candidate who could win the serious activist love, my rough impression from my time on the trail with Ron Paul tells me that the real danger for Rand is that they lose Ron people to where so many of them came from: that huge forgotten silent near-majority of 40-50 percent of Americans who exercise their sacred right not to vote.

Matt Lewis at Daily Caller doubts what so many Paulworld watchers have told me and written lately: that Rand does have a very solid grip on most of Ron's activists. It is alas a world lacking rigorous social science data, so who knows. 

Glenn Thursh at Politico zeroes in on foreign policy and Ron's more conciliatory attitude toward Russia to argue that, yes, Ron will  inadvertently or not be a thorn in his son's side as he runs. Rand has tried to and will continue to try to keep a "no comment, it's nothing to do with me" attitude about that sort of thing, but he can be a prickly guy and perhaps an untoward outburst awaits some lucky reporter on the stump.

Rand will, reports National Journal at length, be relying on a web of Paul-inspired congresspersons, including his home state man Thomas Massie and Michigan's Justin Amash, for support and fundraising for his campaign.