For them that consider early polls important, and I'm one of them half the time I suppose, Rand Paul this week polled tied for lead in New Hampshire in a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire Poll, at 12 percent along with Scott Walker.
For those who wonder if Paul only has fans who are Paul-over-all types who don't fit in the with the rest of the GOP crowd, and that "normal" GOP voters might want nothing to do with him, see that when it comes to declaring their second choice, Paul comes in at 9 percent, tied for third among second choices with Rubio and behind Jeb Bush and Walker.
• A big part of the way Paul is trying to stand out from the Republican field crowd and claim the newer bloc of voters he insists his Party needs is civil liberties. The New York Times wrote about that aspect of Paul at length today.
In an interview, Mr. Paul said he would use the next few weeks to deliver floor speeches and introduce a series of amendments aimed at curtailing government surveillance. (On Monday in New Hampshire, he told The Union Leader he would lead a filibuster against renewal of the Patriot Act.)
"Someone has got to defend the Constitution," he said in the interview on Saturday…
The issue is one that animates him. And it could help put him back at the center of the debate over national security…
"You can be a minority because of the color of your skin or the shade of your ideology," he said on Saturday. "So there's every reason in the world we have to be concerned about a government that collects all of our records all of the time."…
The story notes via polling data and the stances of other GOP politicians that Paul is standing against the tide of his own party on this stuff. But:
Mr. Paul's attention to privacy matters, his campaign is calculating, could show that he is attuned to the concerns of younger, more technologically dependent voters. And it is an important element in a cool factor that he is working hard to cultivate. His website has a store filled with sardonic merchandise — including obsolete computer hardware billed as "Hillary's hard drive," wiped clean, and a T-shirt that says "Don't Drone Me, Bro."
It's a legitimate and libertarian way to distinguish himself, and he's been doing pretty well holding steady on it so far despite his own Party's (whose presidential nomination he is trying to win) predilections.
On the related issue of criminal justice reform, an aspect of civil liberties this story didn't focus on, I wrote last week about Paul's disappointing-to-some reaction to the Baltimore riots and Freddie Gray's death.
• Since he doesn't know enough about what the Trans Pacific Partnership entails, Paul says he will not vote to give Obama fast-track authority on getting the pact before the legislature. He still says he might vote for the pact itself, thought, which he's previously supported. (Today, the Senate voted to block a motion to begin debating giving the president fast track authority. Paul did vote to actually allow debate on the bill, along with nearly all other Republicans.)
• Paul opined in Time last week on why he cheers the 2nd Circuit opinion declaring mass phone metadata collection unconstitutional.