Rand Paul Roundup: Winning Back Ron Fans, Fighting for Female Ones, Keeping the Nevada Caucus, Speaking His Unrestrained Mind


Rand Paul, since he announced he was running for president, has largely dodged whatever potential bullet the radical reputation of his father Ron Paul might represent. But some believe he risks simultaneously losing the love of his dad's fans and voters—a considerable over 2 million folks in the 2012 primaries.

The New York Times thinks the jazzy and staunchly pro-liberty Rand Paul who helped scuttle the renewal of the Patriot Act's Section 215 provisions is independently earning Ron Paul fan love:

Steve Grubbs, who is leading Mr. Paul's efforts in Iowa, said Mr. Paul's supporters have been heartened as they watched the N.S.A. debate unfold. Those votes are the bedrock of the senator's strategy to break out in a large field of Republican candidates…

It was no accident that on the night Mr. Paul railed against the N.S.A. for 11 hours on the Senate floor, his campaign sent out a picture on Twitter of Ron and Carol Paul, Rand's mother, standing in front of a television tuned to C-Span's coverage of the event. "You might recognize these liberty lovers," it teased.

The Times also gets unnamed advisers to say they can even now imagine Ron campaigning in person for Rand in states like Iowa, which is not something I would have predicted back in April (and still will believe when I see).

Old Ron Paul Nevada hand Carl Bunce has the last word in the Times article:

Carl Bunce….said that many in the libertarian movement believed that the Patriot Act's expiration was "something they thought would never happen." But he said they still needed more assurances from Mr. Paul, something that will take time.

"Actions mean more than words to most of the liberty base," Mr. Bunce said. "But I am confident they will get on board soon. Kind of a once-bitten, twice-shy feeling among them."

• In other recent Rand Paul and Nevada news, I reported in late April that Party powers-that-be were trying to change the Nevada caucus into a primary, a move thought to hobble relative outsiders who can punch above their weight with enthusiasm of support over raw numbers.

Now Slate reports that that won't be happening and that fringier candidates such as Paul and, the Slate reporter thinks, Huckabee and Cruz, might have a better chance of doing well. However, new GOP rules hobble the caucus process in general—for one example, now Party rules will allocate delegates based on raw-vote-total winners.

This rule change will make it impossible for dedicated followers to game the delegate selection process as Ron Paul did, for example, in Iowa to get more delegates pledged to him in the end than the raw straw poll vote would have indicated. Thus, the whole caucus vs. primary matter is less important when it comes to actual delegate votes at the GOP convention in summer 2016 this time around.

• Can Rand Paul attract the ladies? To vote for him, that is. Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist wonders. She quotes a CNN poll showing Paul has "the largest gender gap on the GOP side, drawing 13% and tying for first among men while garnering just 2% support among women."

After offering the overriding idea that perhaps women lean toward more emotional, less bloodlessly rational, approaches to politics and policy and that we already have some polling and observational data indicating that for whatever reason libertarian ideas tend to skew more male, Hemingway concludes:

it's undoubtedly true that libertarians themselves—perhaps due to reasons mentioned in the research discussed above—present issues of concern a bit too analytically at the expense of emotional engagement and a hearty focus on community and other institutions. A bit more focus on how the message is conveyed could help Paul improve with GOP women to match gains he's made with GOP men.

• Politico has an interesting take on the general question of how a sometimes prickly politician who often speaks off the cuff and perhaps mildly regrets it can handle the heat of running for president, starting with three recent Paul supposed sorta-gaffes:

After Rand Paul said GOP defense hawks had "created" ISIS, he told Sean Hannity: "I think I could have stated it better." When he claimed some of his adversaries were "secretly" hoping for a terrorist attack so they could blame him for shutting down the PATRIOT Act, the next day he admitted that "hyperbole" got the better of him "in the heat of battle."

And when Paul quipped that he was "glad" his train didn't stop in Baltimore in the wake of riots there, he later offered "regret" that his comments were "misinterpreted."

The piece notes the quality that leads Paul to offer more interesting color to the press than the likes of a Hillary Clinton who avoids any possibility of unscripted interaction:

Unlike some candidates who tend to hew closer to their scripts, Paul, at times, grows weary of giving the same defense of a policy position. So he is prone to veer off topic and offer a new argument publicly. Doing that, however, has its risks. His advisers have tried to impress upon Paul the need to hash out his line of thinking privately before speaking publicly about it for the first time.

Paul's quoted reactions/explanations of the above gaffes in the Politico piece, in which he gives himself some blame for perhaps using the wrong word or emphasis or failed attempts at levity, show a candidate who is less prickly and defensive than the pre-running-for-president Paul could often be.